By Nakanwagi Olivier Mukaaya
Activities relating to the fight against Gender-based Violence in the eastern district of Pallisa have remained at a standstill as a result of Covid-19 lockdown.
As a result, Gender Based Violence has increased in the district destroying several families.
Actors, including local government, civil society organizations, NGOs, and development partners, among others, who have been tirelessly engaging in activities of gender based violence mostly in village areas of Pallisa have had their activities interrupted.
Most cases being heard by local council officials and traditional leaders in Pallisa relate to GBV.
Action Aid Pallisa GBV shelter had an interview with 120 women and men from the community and it was noted with great concern that most men are alleged to have deserted their responsibilities that has scaled up gender-based violence which is presently rocking the district amidst COVID-19 fight.
Ms. Shibah Namulindwa, a programme officer Action Aid Pallisa when releasing a gender based violence report for the district during the COVID 19 lock down indicated that over 100 cases have been reported.
The report shows that in the month of March 10 cases all women were reported, April 37 cases with 27 for women and 10 for men were reported, May 49 cases with 28 for women and 21 for men were reported, Jun 14 cases 07 for women and 07 for men were reported.
The report further indicates that 18 cases have been referred to police for further management after undergoing counseling and guidance that puts gender based violence cases to 80 compared to 45 previously. It also shows that the sub counties of Opwateta, Apopong and Gogonyo are the ones with high rates of GBV in the district of Pallisa.
The report further emphasized and recommended that for the gender based violence cases to slow down, the activists dealing with gender based violence have to go into rural areas indicating that most people in villages do not have the information about gender based violence since many activists concentrate in urban areas.
Ms. Namulindwa adds that many cases of gender based violence have not been reported considering the COVID 19 lock down, saying there is need for all gender based violence activists to come up and go into rural areas which she says are mostly affected by the GBV.
Hellen Apio, a resident from Akumi village in Apopong Sub County in Pallisa says that her husband has abandoned her with seven children. Apio said she is facing hard times taking care of the children.
According to Apio she has used all her savings from her fish business to cater for the family leaving her with nothing to restart her business urging government to render projects that will enable women start business for their households.
Mr. John Michael Ogwalinga, the Probation Officer Pallisa confirms that there are increasing cases of gender based violence that has now separated many families having failed to endure saying his office has received more than 15 cases of women and men who mostly complain of being abandoned by their spouses.
Mr. Ogwalinga adds that so far ever since lock down was imposed, he has referred 3 cases to police for further management and guidance attributing the increasing cases to lower incomes especially for most men who have been bread winners for their families.
Cyrus Samson Omara, the regional police spokesperson North Bukedi confirmed that the cases of gender based violence are overwhelming in Pallisa saying that over 100 cases have been registered by mostly women who claim being abandoned by their husbands during the pandemic.
Mr. Omara attributes increasing cases of gender based violence in Pallisa to ignorance from men whom he says still believe in the old cultures where men have greater authority than women. He said most men in the district have subjected their women to torture claiming to be exercising their powers.
Omara adds that they always do community policing on gender based violence in village areas of Pallisa but men seem to be stubborn saying cases that are also reported seem hard to reach to courts of laws since married couples tend to forgive each other even after reaching police.
Mr. John Michael Okurut, the district chairperson Pallisa claims that though gender based violence has become rampant in the district, it is also very difficult to handle GBV since most women report their husbands and agree before reaching the courts of law.
According to Okurut, the gender based violence activists should come up to sensitize and educate the communities on the dangers of GBV and how to control GBV in their areas saying government alone cannot manage to eradicate GBV in communities.