By Sapphira Nahabwe
60 women in Kampala have said most forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) has a connection to differences in culture. They said this during an orientation on GBV and Gender Equality and Women Empowerment by the International Community of Women Living with HIV Eastern Africa (ICWEA) at TASO in Kampala last week.
Judith Anyango a paralegal with UGANET and client volunteer with Homecare said most cultures in Uganda are designed to make a woman a man’s property or possession.
“Women are viewed as a source of wealth for the men in the house. Goods from her bride price are taken by brothers to marry their wives, and in so, the mother of the girl gets nothing solely because she is a woman” she said.
She added that in some parts of the country, women are tortured into jumping bodies of their dead husbands as initiation before they inherited by their brothers in law.
Anyango also condemned the rush in cultural practices like female genital mutilation and pulling of the
labia saying that it is not good to rush such practices on young girls while their male counterparts are
not being prepared.
“What is the rush? Why are we taking a 7-year-old to visit the bush, why are we mutilating a 4-year-old?
If these practices are really good and can only take a few days to be done, why then are we forcing them on children. What if that girl marries from another tribe where that is a taboo? Shouldn’t we at least
give those young girls a choice to make their own decisions?” Anyango said.
Anyango noted that culture is good but we need to sensitize people about the rushed or forced practices, empower women so they can have a say in their marriages and homes and raising our voices when practices become a vice.
Ann Peace Baguma said culturally men are not allowed to feel weak or vulnerable and when they go through something difficult, they are scared of getting help which results in violence in homes.
“A depressed man will beat you up, an insecure man will not let you work. A broken man will break you too so that he can feel better about himself” Baguma said.
She added that we are fighting for women making it seem like we are fighting the men which is not what women movements are about adding that we are only fighting for equal grounds.
International Community of women living with HIV Eastern Africa is a registered advocacy network and membership-based organization for and by women living with HIV founded in 2005 to give visibility to women living with HIV. ICWEA envisions a world where all WLHIV are respected & meaningfully involved at all political levels, where decisions that affect their lives are made and have full access to care and treatment services and enjoy all of their rights fully, including their SRHR. It has advocacy
chapters in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Uganda which currently houses the secretariat as well.