Youth Leaders in Arua have been challenged to use the Every Hour Matter (EHM) campaign Youth Engagement Toolkit to lead the fight against sexual and gender-based violence and improve access to post-rape care services for survivors.

The call was made by the Arua city deputy mayor, Ms. Inzukuru Millicent, while officially closing the one-day EHM campaign training of trainers (TOT) for youth leaders on using the Youth Engagement Toolkit to provide post-rape care services for survivors of violence which was organized by the Uganda youth and adolescent health forum with support from the infectious disease institute of Makerere (IDI).

The EHM campaign is a global campaign being spearheaded by Together for Girls, and it focuses on Post Rape Care Support and how survivors of rape can quickly access essential and time-sensitive post-rape care services because Every Hour Matters. The campaign asserts that HIV can be prevented if survivors receive life-saving medication PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) within 72 hours, Emergency contraception can help prevent a pregnancy if accessed within 120 hours, and medical help for physical trauma may be urgently needed depending on the situation.

 The training held on June 7th, 2022, brought together over 20 youth champions, including youth council leaders, CSO, community groups, and peer educators, among others, to learn and later use the knowledge to conduct EHM sessions and provide post-rape care services in their respective communities and in schools.

The deputy mayor strongly urged the young people not to allow cultural influences to hold them back from taking on cases and helping rape survivors, noting that in Arua, there are high cases of rape driven by cultural norms and drug abuse, but most go unreported due to the societal belief that matters can be solved from home, which puts the health of the survivor at greater risk of infection.

“In our communities, rape cases are handled from home. They are afraid of taking the survivor to the hospital because they know they will be probed and end up being arrested. This puts the health of survivors at risk of HIV, and most of them also become pregnant. ”

“As youth representatives, you have been chosen to be at the forefront of this campaign because we know you are more familiar and always present in the community, and some of you are active participants in most community social activities. Let us use this opportunity to be the change-makers. ” Inzukuru added.

At the opening of the training, the young people highlighted quite a number of key drivers to sexual gender-based violence (SGVB) and the key barriers to reporting rape cases, and the provision of post-rape care services.

They claim that the police in most cases frustrate rape cases, especially when the survivor cannot afford to pay money for the perpetrator to be apprehended.

“The police are corrupt, when you report a rape case and are willing to help a survivor get justice, they only act when you pay them some money but if not, they keep dragging you back and forth and in the end, you and the family lose interest in the case” revealed one of the participants.

“There are high rates of rape cases here in Arua, driven by a common drug called ‘Azanji’. Many boys and men use this drug to intoxicate girls and take advantage to rape them,” revealed Obetia Juliet, a young person during the training

“I once took a rape survivor to a health facility, but the response I got from the health worker was so negative. She questioned why I troubled myself to assist the girl, claiming that it is they that expose themselves to rape. ” Abdallah, youth counselor.

While taking the trainees through the EHM youth engagement toolkit, Mrs. Alemura Brenda, the EHM project coordinator, urged them to always carry on the message wherever they go or find a platform to speak.

 “The majority of you here are youth leaders at various levels. You don’t need a workshop to spread the message about post-rape care; you can talk about it anywhere at any time. One by one, the message will spread, and we will help our community. ” Brenda added.

 During the training, the youth champions also held a breakaway session where they held discussions on the key drivers of SGBV and how to best work with communities to provide post-rape care services.

They pledged to actively carry on the campaign, act, and also spread the message about post-rape care service to the community through their different platforms and ensure justice for survivors while working closely with the different stakeholders.