Counselors should take a lead role in fighting Gender based violence.
BY BYOMUHANGI RAYMOND
Gender based violence remains a prevalent social problem in Uganda. It takes many forms such as domestic violence, sexual violence, early marriages, human trafficking among others.
The Uganda demographic health survey (2016) indicates that 56 percent of women age 15 to 29 had experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and 28 per cent of women had experienced sexual violence in their life time. This basically means that more than half of Ugandan women/ girls have been abused at home, school, and work and within other social circles. In 2017 alone, defilement and domestic violence were ranked among the top crimes in Uganda constituting about 20% of all the crimes reported to Uganda Police.
This is enough evidence of the challenge on our hands. The UNHCR Uganda Sexual and Gender Based Violence Thematic Report (October 2018) also reported a whopping 4822 incidences in refugee hosting districts between January and October 2018.These are alarming figures that need urgent attention.
Gender based violence does not only violate the rights of victims but also puts their future at stake. Important to note gender-based violence leaves long-lasting physical and emotional scars and hinders the ability of individuals, especially women and girls, to participate fully in their families and communities – economically, politically, and socially.
It also holds back women and girls from getting an education, earning an income, and fully contributing to their societies. In fact it is also linked to the high new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women.
Although, Parliament has passed numerous laws to protect the rights and interests of women and girls – including the Domestic Violence Act 2010, Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, and Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, among others, counselors should take a lead role in fighting this vice first by creating awareness about the immediate and collective impact of these behaviors to the social development of victims especially girls since they are most vulnerable.
Secondly counselors can offer psychological support to the victims through probono counseling services. This can help victims to deal with the effects such as trauma and depression that result in gender based violence incidences.
Lastly advocating for stringent laws against the vice to deter the would be perpetrators.