The Zambian First Lady, Dr Christine Mwela Kaseba Sata, in her key note address, said as medical doctor specialising in reproductive health she has witnessed the painful effects of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
“I have seen the anguish and pain both physically and emotionally that women, girls and children undergo,” Dr Kaseba remarked. “I look forward to the day when every woman will be empowered to fight this,” she added.
Speaking at a meeting of First Ladies of the Great Lakes region Dr Kaseba said one in every three women in the great lakes region has been beaten, coerced into sex and abused. “You can’t claim development when peace is absent. We have every reason to be concerned,” she emphasised. She called for the domestication of all international protocols that banish SGBV.
The First Ladies of the 11 member states of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) were on Wednesday meeting at Speke Resort Munyonyo ahead of regional summit. Their recommendations will be presented to the heads of state for consideration.
At the same meeting Uganda’s First Lady Janet Museveni said the sexual violence women are subjected to cannot be justified on the basis of culture.
Mrs Museveni called for support and defense of victims of what she termed as “shameful acts.”
She said the vice of sexual gender based violence was on the increase because of the disintegration of the family values and invasion of foreign cultures.
“Now is the time for our governments to be up and running in passing laws that can bring care and justice to the victims,” Mrs Museveni stated. “We need to rebuild African structures and family support systems where everyone feels more supported, secure and loved… where one is the brother’s keeper,” she added.
She listed rape, defilement, sexual threats, exploitation, humiliation, assault, molestation, incest and female genital mutilation (FGM) as some of the sexual offences commonly committed against women and girls.
She also mentioned early marriages which she said have increased maternal deaths as other forms of sexual violence. “The First Lady hastened to add that boys and men are also subjected to SGBV during detention, refugee and war situations.
Mrs Museveni called for enforcement of laws, support to institutions like FIDA (federation of women lawyers), sensitisation and media awareness campaigns through the use of the media. Men, she added, must be actively involved to change the mindset just like the religious leaders.
Gender minister Syda Bbumba said the Ugandan Constitution prohibits all abuses and acts that undermine women’s dignity and provides for enjoyment of women’s rights. She also cited three laws passed by parliament; the Prevention and Punishment of trafficking of people 2009, the Domestic Relations Act 2010 and Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Bbumba said plans were underway to develop a curriculum for SGBV for police training colleges to make the region a safe place for girls, boys, men and women. The Minister cited the consequences of SGBV as; HIV infection, fistula, insecurity, low productivity and unwanted pregnancies.