We need a cultural shift on domestic violence

Thursday September 23 2021

A man fights with a woman in Lira District in 2019. Domestic violence has increased in the area during the Covid-19 lockdown. PHOTO/FILE


On September 13, a man hacked his wife to death in broad daylight on the streets of Lira District. It was an incident that shook not just those who witnessed it but family members and the public which heard about it. 

There are multiple ongoing campaigns against domestic violence and yet the vice continues. A follow-up news report detailed how the slain woman lost her life after a toxic relationship turned sour. 

This report was eye-opening in that it showed how blind our society is when it comes to identifying threats to personal safety. Families are actively encouraging battered spouses to return to situations of conflict, of which they are aware. 

Families cite culture, tradition and family honour as the justification for coercing spouses, especially women, to return and bear violence which ends up being fatal in some cases. 

In the Lira case, the family oversaw the separation of the couple, which seemed to suggest that they had understood the gravity of situation.

If the relationship had degenerated enough to cause all to agree that separation was best, why then pressure an unwilling party to return to a broken relationship? Initial findings in this case suggest that all the signs were there.


The North Kyoga regional police spokesperson, Mr Jimmy Patrick Okema noted that the public undermine cases of threatening violence and families do little to help in settling domestic conflicts. 

In some cases, evidence has shown that families even contribute to fuelling the conflict and pushing victims deeper into situations of abuse.

Perhaps we need cultural institutions to champion a shift in attitudes and perceptions surrounding domestic relations. 

We need to break the cycle of silence which encourages couples to sweep problems under the rug or to gag on explosive and unresolved issues. 

As a society, we are dealing with increasing cases of acrimony over property and suspicions of infidelity, among other causes. 

Some of these also require the law and order sector to be proactive and carry out massive public sensitization on basic subjects but key subjects such as what constitutes a threat and how one should handle themselves in a situation where they feel threatened. 

Let us not watch our society degenerate to murdering each other in the streets.