27 April 2012
Kampala, Uganda, 27 April 2012 – Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) calls for a sustained endeavor in Uganda to facilitate access to justice for women, many of whom are in vulnerable situations. Uganda’s local and national authorities should increase their efforts to ensuring women and girls improved access to justice, a crucial element in securing their futures.
Ugandan women’s justice needs are largely related to combating sexual and gender-based violence, combating child trafficking, and promoting their property and inheritance rights. “We have been tackling these issues because they hinder women in their economic and social development and in living in dignity“, explains Séverine Moisy, ASF Head of Mission in Uganda.
In the Teso sub-region, located in the north-western part of the country, ASF, in cooperation with the Uganda Association of Women Layers (FIDA-UGANDA), has been working for the past three years to improve women’s rights. Thanks to this partnership, legal education and awareness-raising have reached over 18,000 people directly; 60% of these have been women and girls. These efforts have educated women and girls about sexual violence response mechanisms, human trafficking laws and legislation relating to domestic violence. “With this knowledge, we are confident that girls here will be inspired to defend their rights and seek legal advice, should they be subjected to violence””, believes Dr. Maria Nassali, FIDA-Uganda Chief Executive Officer.
The assistance provided on domestic violence also included medical support, support in transferring victims to shelters and alternative housing, and referring cases to the appropriate courts.
While many girls are aspiring to their futures, there is need to ensure cultural, societal and government policies and practices that recognize the dignity of girls and women. In Teso, ASF and FIDA Uganda have therefore promoted the economic and social cultural rights of women. Both organizations have raised awareness to justice actors and police on the denial of or hindrances to access to justice that women have been subjected to.
The ASF – FIDA Uganda project on Access to Justice and Combating Child Trafficking in Teso was funded by the European Union and the Belgian Government and finished last month. However, many of the challenges hindering the complete realization of access to justice for girls and women in Uganda still need to be addressed. “Now, we call upon the local and central governments to set up adequate facilities to enable vulnerable people – a majority of whom are women – to access justice. We also invite the media and civil society to play a crucial role in this process”, concludes Séverine Moisy.