Political Lawyering to Combat Gender Violence in East Africa
Paper presented at a Regional Conference on Law, Equity and Justice Organized by Ugandan Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-U) and the Uganda Law Society (ULS), November 24, 2000 at the Sheraton Hotel, Kampala.
13 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2020
Date Written: November 24, 2000
Gender violence is a global epidemic. Study after study have revealed that gender violence does not only affect the physical and psychological well-being of the victims, but that it also affects the people close to these victims and ultimately, it has an adverse effect on the economic development of a nation. Despite these realities, to many of us, struggles against gender violence remain the distant affair for “over-zealous” women’s organizations. At best, we may offer our support and sympathy to this struggle by remote control! At worst, we are part of the problem because we ourselves are violent towards our partners, and other people. More women than you would wish to imagine are constantly abused by men at home, at work or in public places. If your mother, wife, daughter or sister has not been a victim of some form of gender violence, she lives with the constant danger of being abused. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the world we live in.
We hear and read about gender-violence stories almost everyday. About gang rapes of refugees; cabinet ministers and even priests raping girls; strange sects stripping women on the streets; boys’ schools attacking girls’ schools, raping and even murdering women; “respectable” honourables battering their wives; and so forth. The time has come for us to take action. We can no longer afford to be complacent. This afternoon we want to explore what we can do in this corner of the global village to eradicate violence against women.
This short paper is NOT an attempt to make anyone squirm with guilt or self blame. Rather, it is meant to be a collective self-reflexive exercise, a challenge rather than finger-pointing drill. We hope that by the end of our talk each one of the lawyers in this room will leave seriously thinking about the different ways that s/he can contribute to eliminating gender-based violence from our communities.
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