As the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, many nations have and are still registering deaths. It is good news that Uganda has not yet lost anyone to the virus.
Additionally, the public response in following guidelines and donating to the vulnerable have been tremendous. However, women have died or are dying from domestic violence exacerbated by the lockdown.
A number of disturbing clips of domestic violence have in the past been circulating on social media. The distressing clips are the ones where frail and helpless women are being beaten by young men with big sticks.
State actors too have been allegedly committing violence against women. I watched a clip of a boda boda carrying a woman, perhaps against lockdown regulations. A man who appears to be an LDU steps out and hits them hard with a stick. The woman falls to the ground. And then the most shocking one is of the recent fatal shooting of an expectant mother and boda-boda rider in Masaka Town.
It is more sad that there are bystanders watching the violence happen, they seem helpless and unable to intervene and protect these women.
It was, therefore, heartening to see the police respond in one case where an elderly woman suffered violence at the hands of a young man. However, by the time the police arrive at such scenes, injuries have been suffered, limbs broken and perhaps even lives lost.
What we need is a prevention and response mechanism in the community that can step in to actively prevent harm and injury to women until the police arrive on the scene and the criminal or civil justice system kicks in.
Organisations need to partner with leaders and district health teams to sensitise and educate communities about dangers of domestic violence and abuse against women and children. Communities too need to report any violence to responsible authorities.
It may not be very much but it is a starting point. There is power in the community that can be harnessed to protect women.
Violence is the silent killer in homes and women are the hidden victims. As we protect ourselves against the virus, lets ensure we empower communities to fight the vice and see that no woman dies because of domestic violence.