GENDER BASED VIOLENCE A SILENT DRIVER OF GLOBAL MALNUTRITION & POVERTY
’Violence’ means any form of physical, emotional or mental injury or abuse, neglect, maltreatment and exploitation, including sexual abuse, intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against an individual which may result in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development or deprivation.”
In Uganda, VAWG remains particularly widespread. According to the 2016 Uganda Demographic Health Survey (UDHS), 51 per cent of women aged 15-19 years have ever experienced physical violence. More than one in five (22 per cent) women have ever experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes (UBOS & ICF, 2018)
Hon. Betty Amongi, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) presented a statement on the l6 Days of Activism Campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV). This global campaign was inaugurated in 1991 and spearheaded by the Women's Global Leadership Institute (WGLI), a program at Rutgers University in New Jersey USA which trains women in leadership based on global good and practice. The campaign has since grown globally and is marked by a wide range of activities organized by various stakeholders. This year 2022, marks the 31st Anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign.
The Gender Minister said,
"Since Uganda engaged in the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, there has been
increased public awareness of gender-based violence as a human right, public
health, economic and social issue at the family, community, and national
levels". She said Bukedi region was
leading with the highest intimate partner violence at 48%, followed by Acholi
at 47% and Elgon at 33%, while South Buganda registered the lowest rate at 8%.
The National Survey on Violence Against Women (2021) conducted by the Uganda
Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicated that 95% of respondents had experienced
physical or sexual violence, or both, by partners, or non-partners, since the
age of 15 years. The lifetime prevalence of intimate partner sexual violence
was at 36%, whereas physical violence among ever-partnered women was at 45%.
There are regional disparities with Bukedi registering the highest intimate
partner violence at 48%, followed by Acholi region at 47% and Elgon Region at
33%. South Buganda registered the lowest rate at 8%.
The 16 Days of Activism Campaign commenced on 25th November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, with a National Launch which flags off various activities at national and district levels in line with the national theme and ends on 10th December, which is the Human Rights Day. This year's Global Theme is; UNiTE! Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls". Uganda has adopted this global theme as the National theme
Violence against women and children in most communities, include poverty, substance abuse, discriminatory gender roles, and widespread acceptance of violence, which are reinforced by social norms.
· Violence in all its forms remains a public health concern across the world. Intimate partner violence (IPV) can be physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological, among other forms.
· Previous research has shown that women are susceptible to poor health outcomes due to violence. Violence against women can have direct health consequences related to injury or psychosocial distress, such as anxiety, depression, and trauma, stress—which may last longer even after violence is no more.
· Such findings indicate that experience of psychosocial distress is higher among people who experience violence than people who do not experience violence.
· Previous research shows that women who are exposed to intimate partner violence are more likely to acquire HIV than women who have not experienced intimate partner violence. Other negative health effects associated with violence include induced abortion, low birth weight, suicide, homicides, and alcohol disorders. Due to this, there is a need to start recognizing violence against women as a societal or community problem rather than an individual problem.
· Gender-based violence (GBV) is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue. It refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender, and is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms. This can take several forms such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child marriage, and female genital mutilation.
· GBV hinders women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of reproductive health rights. Victims of sexual violence may need emergency contraceptive pills for any unintended pregnancies; treatment for sexually transmitted infections including HIV; medical attention for other injuries including mental and psychological trauma.
GBV - CHILDREN impact & Nutrition Factors
An adult in the neighborhood ever: • punched, kicked, whipped, or beat a child, choked, suffocated, tried to drown a child, or burned them intentionally!
Emotional Violence – Drains Emotional Stability and that has a high probability of damaging a child’s mental health or his/her physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development. This is more on emotional acts of violence perpetrated by parents, adult caregivers, or other adult relatives.
According to the United Nations (UN), food insecurity is increasing in Uganda, rising from 24.1% in 2006 to 41% in 2018. The ongoing COVID-19 and Global Economic crisis have contributed to this considerable increase in Ugandan food insecurity and is likely to continue to do so. Likewise, there is great concern that GPV is increasing across the world because of social isolation, poverty and despair due to COVID-19-related lockdowns, social and financial hardships.
Due to GBV, the productivity rates are so low due to low energy levels that are always responsible for physical attributes to work hence low food production. Uganda. This is coupled with Land and Property Ownership Issues.
Mental health issues (depression or anxiety), which occur when concerns about food availability are accompanied by poor coping mechanisms such as alcohol consumption, can further lead to GBV and the concept of ‘patriarchal risk’ can help to theoretically explain the cultural and societal dependence of women on male family members for food and protection, and traditional gender roles are closely linked to all dimensions of food insecurity: access, availability, stability and utilisation. Although women tend to have less control over the household budget, they are often held responsible for feeding the family and blamed if they fail to provide food on the table, leading to different harmful coping strategies such as transactional sex, which in turn increases their risk of HIV.
There is a lot of GBV among the Teenage parents (Mothers) and Poverty is the leading cause leading to limited capacity to provide for.
· Address the younger generation to create sustainable change related to gender-based violence
· Implement more community meetings on empowerment
· Provide a moving gender transformation center for the more remote areas of Kabale
· Help girls understand their basic rights.
· Intentional and consistent mass awareness among the communities and leaders.