“Gender-based violence (GBV) is something I just read about in the papers. Sometimes I hear about cases being discussed in my church but it doesn’t concern me. I think it’s basically a married people’s problem,” 22-year-old Nangonzi says while flipping her long braids. “The old, tired, married, co-habiting and frustrated individuals are the ones to be bothered by this issue. Seriously I am too young to be thinking about GBV!”
Like most of her peers in higher institutions of learning, Nangonzi sadly subscribes to the notion that the growing graveness of the GBV problem is not something that she should be focusing on since she is not yet married.
However we should not forget that in April this year, Brenda Nakyejju, a second-year Makerere University student almost lost her life when her all-too perfect fourth-year medical student boyfriend attempted to rape her. According to Uganda Today, an online newspaper, Nakyejju, in an attempt to flee from her aggressor, jumped through a window from the third floor of the university’s Mitchell hall. Needless to say her spinal cord was severely damaged from the fall.
What about the beautiful 22-year-old, Enid Twijukye, who was murdered by her rich boyfriend Brian Bagyenda over sex? Twijukye was a student at Makerere University Business School.
On 3rd September 2016, Daily Monitor newspaper reported that Jane Sanyu (25) was attacked by her boyfriend, a one Denis Phillip Abagehu who poured acid on her face because she had left him for another man. She died a few hours later due to an aggravated case of Gender-based violence.
Who can forget the pictures of beautiful Desire Mirembe, a first year Makerere University student who was raped and her body dumped in sugar cane plantations in Kawolo Lugazi? Once again, a ‘dotting’ boyfriend was behind the atrocity.
See these are not isolated special cases that seldom occur. These, my friend, are the evidence of how real Gender-based violence is even among the youth!
A recent study by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda in Busoga region shows that 3-5 GBV cases are reported per day. Interestingly, the victims are not vulnerable 60-year-olds. They are the tender ages of 20, 30, 40 and even 16 – very much like you and me.
A 2009 research by the Uganda Bureau of statistics reported that 28 per cent of Ugandan youth have ever experienced sexual violence. But sexual violence is only a small part of GBV. You can only imagine how much bigger that percentage will get should the study be done for every angle of GBV!
According to Pascal Ericha, a GBV Program Assistant based in Iganga district, this social ill is being driven by families that are already ailed with GBV.
“Some homes have physical, psychological and emotional violence among parents. The young people are growing up seeing their fathers oppressing their mothers. Sometimes it’s vice versa,” he says.
IS IT A QUESTION OF A PATRIACHAL UGANDAN SOCIETY?
Ericha further says that another major driver for GBV lies in the upbringing of most children that causes problems in the future.
“Most children are told right from their toddler ages that certain chores are not meant for boys for example washing dishes. A boy who has been raised in such a setting grows up thinking that he is superior so when he marries a woman from a family where both sexes do the same chores then they are bound to have misunderstandings. According to her it’s normal to share responsibilities while he views it as an insult. He could end up beating her which ultimately leads to full blown domestic violence. You therefore can only pity the children who are to be born to such parents,” he says.
Together with the Uganda Youth Inter Faith Network and the Women of Faith Network, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda has worked to raise awareness about GBV. However, Ericha says that awareness alone is not enough. The organization and the networks are working to ensure that members of communities receive counselling about GBV.
“As religious leaders we appeal to our congregants that just like they go for premarital counselling they should also go back to the religious leaders for guidance when faced with challenges after getting married,” Ericha says.
See more on IRCU GBV work here: http://ircu.or.ug/news/interview-with-busoga-gbv-prevention-champions/
He advises the youth to look out for and fight against GBV when they are still young. “GBV is a serious problem but its worst form is the psychological or the emotional one. You might be in a home when your mother or father is being tortured but you do not know. Fight against GBV when you are still young.”
So, youth be the voice against this animal – because in the face of GBV, boys, girls, men, women. Our self-esteem, safety, autonomy, health and vigor is grossly undermined.
By Amanda Rachael Ainengonzi.