Fighting Gender-Based Violence during times of COVID-19.
By Ofwono Opondo,
In these times of COVID -19, cases of Gender-Based Violence cases have spiraled due to economic insecurity and poverty-related stress and quarantine of citizens. Whereas the lockdown is meant to control the spread of the Corona Virus, it has created anxiety, fear, and uncertainty in the population leading to an increase of GBV cases in Uganda.
From our engagements in the community, attention has been brought to us that some married partners are throwing their spouses’ medication in the toilets due to misunderstandings at home. For young females between the ages of 13 -15 years who are being sexually abused by their fathers, it is becoming a challenge to handle such cases since at one point we need to separate the child from the parent.
During the COVID -19 lockdown, approximately 161 cases of Gender-Based Violence were reported to ROM between the months of March and April 2020 of these 128 were reported by females and 33 males. ROM has made follow-ups through our Community Health Workers and has offered counseling sessions about GBV while others have been referred to the Local Council leadership and Police.
Reach Out Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative though out the lockdown has been holding Gender-Based Violence sessions for clients visiting the facilities in line with the presidential directives and the Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines on COVID-19. At the sessions, clients are made aware of GBV issues in society and what to do to address these. Discussions in relation to their health adherence to medication, support in health issues, child up bring, economic growth, and psychological wellbeing of all family members are also held.
ROM does not work alone, we are utilizing our partnerships with the Local Council leadership, police, and other partners like The Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), and The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Uganda) as we work towards ending GBV in Uganda.