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Ordinances facilitate grassroots action to counter gender-based violence

It has been the talk of policy makers, programmers and development partners for a while, at meetings, workshops and dialogues, “that Uganda makes good policies and laws but the problem is implementation.”

Against this background local leaders in several districts have taken steps to address this challenge by developing district bye-laws and ordinances (regulations made by the local authority and applies only in their area) in order to change the narrative.

Kitgum district in Northern Uganda is one of them. Emerging from unspeakable legacies of armed conflict by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), residents of Kitgum district grappled with high incidences of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). In addition to other community-based interventions to address the challenge, they advocated for the intervention by the local leadership. Thus, the Kitgum District Local Action Plan to address gender inequality and violence was developed. The Plan recommends the development of ordinances and bye-laws as one of the interventions to strengthen the legal responses to increasing incidences of GBV.

“The sheer magnitude of GBV and its effects on women and girls inspired our aspiration to come up with the bills which we are translating into ordinances to curb the vice further,” says Mr. James Okidi, the District Community Development Offi er (DCDO). Mr. Okidi further explains that violence is deeply rooted in excessive alcohol consumption, and opportunities lie in local legislation to address pertinent issues at the heart of public interest.

Similarly, Ms. Sarah Labol, the District Gender Focal Point notes, “there has been a growing concern among stakeholders and communities of Kitgum over the increasing cases of GBV fuelled by the heavy consumption of crude alcohol and drug abuse. Therefore, the leaders unanimously saw the need to develop local legislation to regulate the production, sale, and consumption of crude alcohol.”

The sheer magnitude of GBV and its effects on women and girls inspired our aspiration to come up with the bills which we are translating into ordinances to curb the vice further,” says Mr. James Okidi, the District Community Development Officer (DCDO). 

Thus, the District Community-Based Services Department worked closely with the District Council and other sub-national partners to use locally generated data to draft and pass legislation on alcohol and substance abuse to address violence against women and girls, including sexual violence, physical violence, economic violence, psychological violence, as well as harmful practices such as child marriage. The District Council approved the tabling and debate of a Bill on the Crude Alcohol Ordinance in March 2021.

 

Support from UNFPA and Partners

UNFPA supported the District Crude Liquor Ordinance Taskforce to review, scrutinize, and align the proposed Crude Liquor Ordinance with the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and other relevant laws of the land to customize the information contained therein to the Local Government settings and structures.

At national level, UNFPA has been at the epicentre of advocacy for progressive gender policies and laws, including the support to the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development in the advancement of the National Policy on Elimination of Gender-Based Violence in Uganda, advocacy on and support to the development of the National Guidelines for the Provision of Psychosocial Support for Gender-Based Violence Victims/Survivors.

With funding from European Union (EU) through the Spotlight Initiative, UNFPA has so far supported six District Local Governments to finalize, table and debate Bills on Ordinances in regard to alcohol abuse, GBV prevention, and promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights. In progress so far are:

  1. The Alcohol Consumption Ordinance has been developed in Arua district;
  2.  The Child Protection Ordinance in Tororo district is under review to include elimination of GBV and child marriage;
  3.  The issue paper on Alcohol Consumption, the GBV Ordinance developed by Amudat district is awaiting final tabling by the District Local Council, then it will be sent to the Attorney Generals’ offi ce for approval;
  4.  Kyegegwa and Kasese districts have developed issue papers for GBV Ordinances that have been approved by the planning and the technical teams at district level.

To support the legal framework at community level UNFPA works with partners like CARE, with funding from the Royal Danish Embassy under the Women, Adolescents, Youth Rights, and Empowerment (WAY) Programme, to sensitize communities against the dangers of alcohol use.For Kit gum, “It is envisaged that if the Bill is passed into Law/Ordinance, it will regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol in the district, hence the ripple effect of reduced violence against women and girls,’ says Hon. Emmanuel Lapyem, Local Council Five (LCV) Councillor, Layamo sub-county.

 

By Cinderella Anena