Source: New Vision
WOMEN and human rights activists throughout the world have begun a 16-day campaign to promote awareness about violence against women and girls.

Action for Development (ACFODE) a local women’s rights organization launched its campaign Friday at the Buganda Road Primary School playground and will next week proceed to launch the 16 days of activism campaign against gender-based violence in Pallisa district in Eastern Uganda.

“We chose Pallisa because of its alarming rates. Defilement at 80 per cent is ranked as the highest form of sexualized violence against women, followed by rape which is at 60 per cent according to our findings in 2009,” revealed Sandra Nassali, the Public Relations and Advocacy Officer at ACFODE.

She explained that there is more emphasis on women because statistics show that 39 per cent of women in Uganda have ever experienced gender-based violence, compared to 11per cent of the men according to the 2006 Ugandan Demographic and Health survey.

The launch was graced by several youths who distributed educational materials bearing information on gender-based violence and how it can be prevented. As early as 7am, the youths adorned in skating shoes had already hit five roundabouts of Wandegeya, Spear motors (Nakawa), Bwaise, Nateete and Clock tower in Kampala carrying placards with messages calling for action to be taken to end violence.

The campaign is funded by the American Refuge Committee and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).

Nassali called upon both government and religious officials to preach against violence, saying the acts are a violation of women’s human rights, peaceful existence in homes, communities and nation.

“A country is only peaceful if everyone enjoys a peaceful life. Women have been robbed of their peace despite the end of wars in Uganda. Everyone must join in to restore this peace,” Nassali appealed.

She explained that gender based violence exists in many forms such as physical, sexual, psychological and economic.

“It can be seen in the form of violence occurring within the family setting , such as domestic violence, marital rape, harmful traditional practices, and  killings, as well as in the community, such as sexual harassment and violence in the workplace, or in trans-border contexts, such as in the case of trafficking of women and girls,” she argued.

The official also said on top of women suffering from these violations, “they also have to cope with discriminatory laws and deeply entrenched gender inequality. It is no wonder they live traumatic lives.”

“When we wake up every day and listen to the radio, read a newspaper or watch the television, we are confronted with the saddening news: domestic violence, rape, defilement, maternal deaths, murders and gender discrimination among others,” she noted, calling upon the general public to join the fight against violence.

“The general public must come out and fight violence because government and its agencies cannot be everywhere in people’s homes where the vice takes place,” she argued.

Nassali appealed to religious leaders to preach the gospel to end violence like they did when the HIV/AIDS scourge was claiming millions of Ugandans.

“The church was fundamental in spreading awareness on HIV/AIDS issues. We want to inform them that violence is the new scourge eating up our society today and it must be fought from all corners,” she acknowledged.

The 16 days of activism against violence which begin on November 25 to December 10 are internationally recognized as a period in which activists strategize to raise awareness on the elimination of violence against women.

“The period is essential because November 25 is the International Day Against Violence while December 10 is the International Human Rights Day,” she said.

“The period is chosen in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights,” she explained.

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