15 August 2016

Drive against violence should be long-term

Last week, three people aged 22, 16 and 14 – two girls and a boy – walked into a police station in Mitooma District and confessed to killing their father. The trio, who hail from Karimbiro parish in Bitereko Sub-county, told police they killed their father, John Banyanga, using a hoe.

The district police commander, Mr Henry Mugarura, narrated the incident thus: “We were left in shock after the children came in here and said they had killed their father because he was fond of torturing them.” The three also reported that their father had threatened to kill them.

In a related case, police in Ibanda last week discovered the body of a 45-year-old woman dumped in a banana plantation. Reports indicate that she was strangled and police are investigating the possibility of her husband masterminding her death because of marital conflicts.

We use these two incidents to illustrate the gravity of what has become a daily item in our news pages – domestic violence. While domestic violence has for long been perceived as abuse that often happens between spouses, this vice, as demonstrated by media reports, goes beyond a fight between couples. It involves and affects other members of households, especially children – usually with devastating consequences. The effects of domestic violence go beyond families, affecting communities. Domestic violence includes child abuse which, as seen from the Mitooma incident, could lead to tragic consequences such as the alleged tortured children reportedly killing their father.

Because these stories have become common in our communities, domestic violence seems to be an accepted practice and little is being done to curb the vice. That is why we applaud the clergy for launching a nationwide campaign against discrimination of HIV patients and violence against women. The drive, spearheaded by religious leaders in partnership with civil society organisations such as Raising Voices and Trocaire, requires every clergy to preach against violence on women and discrimination of HIV positive people in their sermons.

This campaign is even more significant because it incorporates the aspect of discrimination of HIV positive people, something that has seen individuals, especially women, ostracised by their communities. As Msgr John Baptist Kauta, the secretary general of the Uganda Episcopal Conference argued, fighting violence and discrimination needs patience and a lot of commitment.

Msgr Kauta is right; the reason the fight against domestic violence has not registered substantial impact is because most of the efforts have been sporadic. For a drive against domestic violence to be sustainable and successful, we must have adequate funding, commitment, widespread awareness campaigns and extensive community involvement.


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