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C h a p t e r 1 3 Mobilizing Communities to Prevent Violence Against Women and HIV in Kampala, Uganda Tina C. Musuya Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, is a home to approximately 1,420,200 people, predominantly Baganda but also others originating from different tribes and parts of the country (Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2008). As in many places in sub-Saharan Africa, gender inequity is the norm with many believing that male supremacy is a natural and “God-given” privilege. In this view, women are considered men’s property and therefore have limited power over their own lives and bodies , a factor that increases their vulnerability to HIV and a range of reproductive health problems. In addition, women are often victims of violence including sexual assault, physical violence, and verbal and emotional abuse (Uganda Law Reform Commission 2006). A 2008 study of 1,585 community members in Makindye and Rubaga Divisions in Kampala by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Makerere University, and Raising Voices (a Kampala-based nongovernmental organization working to prevent violence against women and children) revealed the following: Almost half of the women (49 percent) who were currently married or were in an intimate relationship had experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a partner. Many women reported both physical and sexual violence. Almost a third of the women (31 percent ) reported experiencing physical or sexual violence from a partner in the last year. Three quarters of the women (75 percent) said that their partners had used one or more forms of controlling behavior in the past twelve months. When men were asked the same questions, 50 percent reported using one or more controlling behaviors with their partners in the past twelve months (Watts et al. 2010). Many women and young girls in Makindye and Rubaga Divisions (two of the administrative zones of the city of Kampala) attest that violence Mobilizing Communities in Kampala, Uganda 241 is part of their lives, revealing that they are always under the control of their partners and live in fear of physical violence. In addition, many women depend entirely on their partners to provide for their basic needs because the men prohibit them from seeking any form of employment . Finally, many do not have power to decide when and how to have sex because their male partners make these decisions. Many women in intimate relationships are resigned to their situations. Talking about prevention of HIV during a community outreach activity, one middleaged woman reflected the views of the group: What can we do? You know very well that our men never have one partner and yet they do not accept to use protection with us their wives, so we are doomed to get the infection any time. We survive by the grace of God. (a middle-aged woman in a Nakulabye market) Hope Turyasingura, a long-time activist for women’s rights, explained gender perceptions and customs in the community as follows: There is a widespread practice in the community that condones male infidelity . Many community members expect the wife to tolerate it as long as the husband is discreet about his numerous relationships. Although the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (1995) recognizes women’s rights and the government is party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, violence against women still occurs in Uganda at alarming rates. While many advances have been made in the promotion and protection of girls’ and women’s rights in the public arena in Uganda, critical policy areas that undermine women’s right to safety still remain. Violence against women (VAW) is deeply rooted in the unequal relations between men and women because the Ugandan society has developed a social hierarchy that accords men a higher status than women and permits men to use VAW as a way of imposing their will. Preventing violence calls for a change in these norms. Notably, addressing VAW is a means of preventing HIV because VAW is both a cause and a consequence of HIV (Michau et al. 2009). Mobilizing Communities to Prevent Domestic Violence and Associated Health Problems One response to preventing VAW and associated health problems comes from the Center for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP), a nongovernmental organization formed in 2003 and supported by American 242 Tina C. Musuya Jewish World Service, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Foundation for Open Society Institute, Irish...


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