Sexual and gender based violence (GBV) remains a very challenging conversation globally. Encompassing a wide range of issues – from date rape to intimate partner violence – GBV affects women worldwide. Furthermore, interventions that seek to prevent violence or help survivors are unable to cater to all people experiencing abuse.
In 2016, the Uganda Police Force Annual Crime Report showed that cases of gender based violence that were reported and investigated increased by 4%. This means an increase from 38,651 to 40,258 cases between 2015 and 2016. Yet, the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey revealed that 1 million women are exposed to sexual violence every year.
Safepal – an app for victims of gender based violence
Innovations led by young people in Uganda are providing platforms that open up conversations on the topic. In 2017 we wrote about Safepal, an app invented by young people for victims of gender based violence to seek psychosocial support.
Since 2017 the platform has grown from 5 case management service providers to 13. With their help, all the 123 reported cases have been successfully linked to health centers and other service providers. This has enabled the provision of immediate medical aid for victims of sexual violence.
The app’s biggest challenge was ensuring access in hard to reach areas. Especially for young people with no mobile phones or in places of low internet connectivity. Therefore, Safepal has now developed a USSD code that is yet to be deployed. This code will allow young people to report cases of violence even from remote areas with low internet connectivity. In July this year, SafePal was launched in the WestNile region.
Other innovations creating awareness about the need to eliminate GBV are rising up too.
SAUTIplus – providing information through media and more
Reach A Hand Uganda focused energy on designing The SAUTIplus app. It is an innovative part of the SAUTIplus ecosystem that is helping to fill gaps in Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) including GBV information and services.
The SAUTIplus app is a mechanism to curb the growing concerns by offering answers to young people. The app embraces the growing innovative technologies and changes in media trends. Sauti Plus does this by merging podcasts, videos, blogs, referral centres and more. The app addresses SRHR issues along with issues that affect young people in and outside the school, including HIV/AIDS.
Kyaddala: Its Real – the TV show changing conversations about SRHR and GBV
In September, Reach A Hand Uganda premiered its pan African TV show that changes conversations about SRHR and GBV. Kyaddala: Its Real portrays the challenges young people face and is currently airing every Friday on Uganda’s major broadcaster.
Kyaddala: Its Real leverages the rapid rise in TV ownership in Uganda and Africa to spread knowledge about SRHR issues. It takes on topics like HIV, child marriages, teenage pregnancy and gender-based violence.
Moreover, the show integrated a psychosocial support option. It provides online counseling and referrals to people who have experienced gender based violence.
Gender based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. Yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. That’s why conversations are critical in the fight against violence.