According to men and women of Kisoro district, there have been reduced cases of sexualized violence against girls and women. This advancement was realized during the extensive interaction/monitoring visit with project beneficiaries and stakeholders in the four rural sub counties of Busanza, Kirundo, Nyarusiza and Nyakabanda. This was part of activities under the ACFODE project titled; “Prevention and handling of cases of sexual violence against girls and women in the rural areas of Kisoro district and enforcement of women’s rights at national level in Uganda” that is being implemented in partnership with German NGO EIRENE with support from the German government.
The exercise involved the EIRENE project officer Great lakes region/Africa Mr. Hauke Steg, whose task was to meet the project team, monitor the progress and achievements and together identify new actions for successful implementation of the project. Among the activities conducted were; sharing of experiences, challenges and success stories, discussing way forward and drawing work plans, presentations of drama, poems and songs by pupils, and an exhibition event themed “know your role in the fight against gender based violence,” including pro-bono services such as counseling, reporting of cases, and HIV testing.
The three year project is aimed at socially and culturally empowering women and girls in Kisoro district to enforce their rights and suffer less from sexual violence. The project is implemented through a community and school based approach local and national level advocacy work, monthly talk shows, and referral and psycho-social counselling services for GBV survivors.
ACFODE trained social actors of the four rural sub counties on the topics regarding sexualized violence i.e. definition, detecting and handling of sexual violence cases, prevention and effective mobilization, documentation and reporting. The trained community facilitators formed committees at parish level titled CODERASH (Combating all forms of Rape, Defilement, and Sexual Harassment).
Stakeholders noted that there have been reduced cases of sexual violence in their areas. “Before the project’s inception, we had alarming SGBV cases in Nyarusiza Sub County and the situation has since improved as a result,” testified the Nyarusiza CDO Ms Annet Tumwebaze. “Unlike before, I rarely receive cases of sexual violence in my area.” she added. Mr. Twambaze Justus, a Parish Chief in the same sub county said that during his monitoring visits in the different parish gatherings e.g. Bataka kweterana, residents rarely report or raise sexual violence cases. Senior teachers and head teachers who have been involved in the project recognized a reduction in sexual violence cases and early pregnancies in their schools. Pupils, parents and teachers have been sensitized by their peers resulting in openness and willingness to report cases and to say no to early/unlawful sexual activities. Only the OC Kisoro Police Station still receives about the same number of sexual violence cases.
Despite the successes registered, the district is still grappling with land issues such as land ownership, inheritance and occupancy, and consent over buying and selling land which fuel sexualized gender based violence at house hold and community level. Community facilitators were therefore equipped with basic information on land rights in Uganda. In addition, stakeholders pledged to involve more men in the struggle and strategized on how to best address the project deterring issues to realize a sexual violence free society for gender equality.