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UGANDAN MEN AMONG AFRICA’S WORST WIFE BATTERERS

KAMAPALA, July 1– Ugandan men have been ranked as among the leading wife beaters in Africa, according to a scorecard compiled from reports made by different United Nations organs on domestic violence.

The survey, conducted in 37 countries in Africa, shows Uganda recording the highest percentage (60) of men aged 15-49 years who consider hitting/beating their wives one of the ways they safeguard their relationships.

Reasons they advance include domestic arguments which the men rarely want to lose, going out without telling him, neglecting the children or refusing his sexual advances.

Uganda is followed by Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Zambia, Lesotho, Kenya, Swaziland, Namibia, Tanzania, Liberia and Nigeria in that order. These are followed by Madagascar, Ghana, Malawi, Cape Verde and Benin with 14 per cent.

The survey also reveals that 87 per cent of women in Mali between 15-49 years consider a husband justified in hitting/ beating his wife for the same reasons given above. The other countries include Guinea, Ethiopia, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.

“There is a deeply damaging socialization and indoctrination of women to accept violence against them as ‘normal’. This in turn has serious negative consequences for their human rights, gender equality, women’s education & development, ability to contribute to social and economic development and overall health,” the survey noted.

The findings were conducted by organizations such as Africa Health, and Human and Social Development Information Service on the theme: “Wife beating, forced marriage of girl children and female genital mutilation as the major forms of violence against women”.

This survey was among the top discussion topics in a special regional conference organized by several women’s organizations including Akina Mama wa Afrika, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network, IPAS Health Access Rights and the Forum for Women in Development (FOWODE) here Sunday on the theme “Strengthening African Women’s voices in the post-2015 processes”.

“As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) come to an end, the African Women’s Movement are raising common issues women face in the continent including violence against women, sexual reproductive health and women’s rights,” said Solome Nakaweesi Kimbugwe a woman activist and the Executive Director of Nnabagereka Development Foundation, a non-governmental organization fighting for women’s rights.

Kimbugwe told the conference that the third and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 3 and 5) which seek to promote gender equality and empower women had not been fully implemented.

“Women continue to die while giving birth to children and even though there is increasing enrolment of the girl child in schools, we have failed to retain them,” she said, adding that these needed immediate redress in the next agenda.

Ugandan Government Spokeperson Ofwono Opondo told New Vision: “General domestic violence is very high and acceptable in most rural families in Uganda. Since most men purport to be the bread winners, it in most cases goes unchallenged.

“In other cases, if a man tries to bring another wife home and the wife rejects the move , this leads to a battering and this is mostly in low income earning homes both in villages and urban slums.”

Prelate Father Gaetano Batayenda of Kabale Diocese said: “It is true especially in the villages of Uganda where women are bread winners in some homes. If after selling the farm produce she fails to give the man money for alchohol he will batter her. In the rare cases where women beat men it is in self-defence,” he said.

Leonard Okello, the chief executive of rights advocacy Uhuru Institute said: “It is very parochial of men to beat women. I don’t think it’s a good thing-I will never do such a thing! It is only men who are insecure who have come to terms with reality that beat women.”

SOURCE: NEW VISION

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