started this petition to
Government of Uganda
This is a petition by the Uganda Women Lawyers Association (FIDA-U) calling upon the Uganda Government to integrate measures to address Violence against Women and Children into their response to COVID-19. On 22nd March, Uganda registered her first case of COVID-19 and the President has since then issued several directives aimed at curbing the spread of the disease some of which included the ban on the use of public and private means of transport, and requiring permission for essential and emergency movements to be sought from the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) during the period of the ongoing 14-day total lock-down which began on 1st April 2020. The President also noted that the state was not dealing with issues of domestic violence at the moment as it is not an issue of emergency.
FIDA-Uganda, women’s rights organisations, child rights advocates and the police have recorded a rise in incidents of domestic violence and violence against children as a result of the lock-down. Many women and children remain trapped with their abusive partners and guardians due to the lock-down, unable to report cases, seek medical treatment or seek refuge with family and friends due to the ban on public transport. The police remain unable to adequately respond to cases, arrest perpetrators and help victims of domestic violence and sexual violence access medical treatment due to the strain on their limited resources. Legal aid service providers remain unable to support law enforcement due to the fact that they are not considered essential services during the lock down and therefore cannot operate or move.
According to police reports, as of 31st March 2020, 5 fatalities had been recorded as a result of domestic violence during the lock-down. FIDA has continued to receive reports of defilement and child abuse. The dangers posed by violence remain real, for women and children right now, the health implications remain grave including physical harm, maiming and mutilation, death, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies among others.
Noteworthy, is the fact that the Government of Uganda has made significant headway in combating Violence against Women and Children including domestic violence and sexual violence through establishing structures and creating a strong normative legal framework informing the work on violence against women. Uganda is also state party to nearly all international human rights conventions as well as relevant regional protocols focusing on curbing violence against women and children.
We therefore call upon the Government to reiterate their commitment while they make interventions on curbing COVID-19 by taking into considerations the different vulnerabilities of women and children in this country.
It is upon this premise that we are petitioning the Government of Uganda and the Ministry of Health to include violence against women and children under the category of emergencies, design and implement appropriate actions to respond to violence even amid the crisis. We also call upon the government to include legal personnel among essential services, so they are able to support victims of violence and other vulnerable persons in need of urgent legal assistance.
Please join us and sign the petition below calling the Uganda Government to make these changes in a timely manner.
Posted: 9 April 2020 (Updated: 29 April 2020)