Celebrating the women in your life is not enough, to end Gender-Based Violence, it is essential to study women and girls’ economic, social and political transformations in society says Mugalula Ashiraf
Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls for all actors “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. The goal aims to equalize power relations between genders and put an end to gender-based violence, sexual violence and domestic violence. We can celebrate all the economic progress we’ve made in the last century. However, there’s a shadow to the celebration. In just about every way, women and girls lag behind.
Why Gender-Based violence?
Women are usually at the receiving end of gender-based violence that usually arises due to unequal power relations between genders. This particular form of violence is directed specifically against women by virtue of their gender and they are affected disproportionately compared to men. Gender-based violence is evident in public and private spheres, including home, school, and work, and takes place during peacetime and conflict. It is both a human rights and a development issue, with negative consequences to both women and men in terms of development. Young women are generally in most cases vulnerable to crime and violence from people they know personally especially their family members and neighbors.
Who is most vulnerable to Gender-Based violence?
The groups most vulnerable to GBV include; girls aged between 13 and 17 are most frequently reported as survivors of SGBV, followed by women aged from 19 to 36, then younger children aged from 4 to 9. Girls are found to be most vulnerable to STIs, mental, emotional, and health illnesses.
The 2003 UNFPA Report revealed 50% of all sexual assaults in the world are committed against girls who are 15 years or younger. While a multi-study established that between 15% and 17% of women reported physical or sexual violence by a husband or an intimate partner, between 4% and 12% of women reported being abused during pregnancy, and one in five women compared to one in ten men reported sexual abuse as children.
What can be done?
Sensitizing the masses
The government still needs to sensitize the masses on the consequences of GBV so that they can learn from their own experiences. Decision makers need to understand the root causes of GBV and deal with them appropriately. A need to carefully listen to both parties in a violent situation is essential. Much should be put in mind that violence affects both men and women.
Efforts to reduce GBV should be based on the evaluation of all by-laws put in place and involve both men and women to participate in decision making to ensure compliance to these by-laws and policies to ensure family welfare and development. The government should ensure effectiveness of the laws to protect women.
Continuous counseling should be availed to families. This should reach the family level rather than the community since some issues are feared to be discussed in public. Documentation of such cases should be ensured to give proper records and statistics to the relevant authorities and population. Finally, there is a need to empower the rural community based organisations especially through funding so as to boost their capacity to enhance the role in fighting for an engendered society.
Women can be successful when they get support and acceptance from the population for any activity they do and they can attain their goals if they get help and support from males, females, and the community at large. Today, I challenge not only governments as the principal duty bearer but all duty bearers to do the following to create an equal and inclusive society for both men and women.
Mugalula Ashiraf is a Ugandan youth, development worker and human rights activist. He is the founding Executive Director of the Rihtes-Outreach on Human Rights, Justice and Law (RHJL) in 2019. Mugalula Ashiraf is passionate about justice, gender equality, human rights, peace, security, and rule of law, democracy and good governance and the situation of the youth and poor (indigent) persons. He understands that proactively including gander in the field of justice and human rights construction is critical to building a free and just society (s) that are resilient for all. This motivated him to establish RHJL and advocate for the full implementation of subsequent resolutions on Gander Based Violence (GBV), Sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), justice and human rights and for increased youths and vulnerable person’s participation in the justice and human rights processes at local, regional and national levels. Mugalula’s work has covered several fields including women’s rights, children’s rights, and PWD’s rights, gender justice, and mediation, peace building campaigns and local, national power engagements and access to justice in the communities. He has worked extensively with individuals, organizations both public and private and networks in Mayuge, Jinja, Bugiri, Buyende, Luuka, Namutumba, Busia, Iganga, Kamuli, and Kaliro, Uganda.