KAMPALA, A new survey by the non-profit human development organization FHI360 indicates that contrary to common belief, some Ugandan women are actually okay with their men seeing other sexual partners - as long as the men still provide for the family and don't contract sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and infect them.

A total of 4017 men and women from selected 16 districts across the country were asked whether or not a man "must have sex with other women even if things with his wife are fine." Three in every 10 women agreed it was okay, same number as men - three in every 10.

The 2015/16 survey, which sought to determine violence, especially that meted against women in rural and urban Uganda, did not include whether or not a woman must have sex with other men, even if relationships with her hubby were fine.

But it included whether or not it was okay for a man to hit a woman if she cheated on him. And five in every 10 women agreed that it was okay, compared to six in every 10 men who backed the social construction.

Two in every 10 women agreed it was okay for a man to hit his wife if she denied him sex, also same figure as men - two in every 10.

Presenting the research findings at a gender-based-violence symposium at the Uganda National Council for Science at Technology offices in Kampala, researcher Leonard Bufumbo said the particular revelation (three in every 10 women were okay with 'cheating' men) was absurd and anti-efforts to "elevate women and the girl child to where they ought to be."

"It is shocking. But we need to also understand the reasons some women (say it is okay)," the researcher said.

On top of three in every 10 women agreeing that it is okay for men to have extramarital affairs, another three in every 10 women also consented to the injustice that "there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten."

Four in every 10 men gave a thumbs-up to women battering.

Six in every 10 women agreed a woman should "tolerate violence" to keep her family together. The same number of men - six in every 10 also approved of the attitude.

Associate Professor at the School of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University and Executive Director Centre for basic Research Dr. Josephine Ahikire said the survey findings were surprising but not much and blamed the attitudes on the "oppressive society" the women live in.

She said "people who are oppressed get accustomed to this behaviour and it starts being normal and they accept it."

"We have a bad culture that indoctrinates women to be submissive. Otherwise, why would a woman not mind sharing her husband? The tradition and some faiths which are so male dominated are not doing women any favour," feminist Alice Kyomuhendo said.

Joanita Kawalya, a national AIDS research committee member, said social biases needed to change to empower to develop right attitudes and make right decisions."

"This shows there is something wrong with our communities and our attitudes towards women have to be righted," she said.

The UNCST okays all research conducted in the country.

A lot has been talked about men also being victims of gender based violence, but it is still women who suffer the most brunt of the injustice.

Veronica Nakijoba, also from the School of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University, said the GBV had outgrown homesteads and now was also evident at schools, with male teachers abusing female colleagues and vice versa and girl children suffering the most.

"Some boys peep into girl's bags and laugh at them when they are carrying sanitary pads. They peep into their toilets and start making fun of the girls," she said.

"This contributes to the high school drop-out rates among the girls," she said.

Dr. Sam Okware said lots of the causes of GBV were hidden away in the bedroom and couldn't be seen. But GBV is a hindrance to the positive social economic transformation of Uganda that the country so badly craves.




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