USING MASS MEDIA TO CHALLENGE SGBV AND OTHER HARMFUL PRACTICES AMONG ADOLESCENT GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN.
Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) continues to use different platforms and channels, including mass media, to bring together various stakeholders to discuss and sensitize the community on key SRHR challenges that affect adolescent girls and young women.
On the 8th of April, we hosted a panel of young people, a medical expert from the UYAHF Adolescent Health Clinic, and a police officer from the Family and Child Protection Unit at Mbale Central Police Station on our weekly radio talk shows that run every Saturday on 95-time FM to discuss an interesting topic: Addressing sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) among adolescent girls and young women; screeching, reporting and supporting survivors”
The one-hour radio talk show that runs from 9:00 to 10:00 am saw an interactive session where key issues, including identifying the key drivers of SGBV in and out of school, why survivors fear reporting, referral pathways, and how to support survivors, among others, were discussed.
Presenting on the show, SP. Anuso Salume, a police officer from the family and child protection unit in Mbale central police station, defined SGBV as any form of sexual, physical, economic, psychological, injury, or threat to harm directed against a person on the basis of their gender.
She stated the different forms of SGBV as defilement, rape, forced or early child marriages, forced pregnancy, female genital mutilation, marital rape, unwanted sexual touches or words (sexual harassment), and forced abortion, among others.
While explaining why young people fear reporting incidences of SGBV, Nafuna Prima, a senior three student at Grace Secondary pointed out that; Fear of the abuser, fear of belief from family and friends, fear of shame, and lack of knowledge on where and how to report are among the reasons given by
Additionally, Mweru Peter, a UYAHF change champion and the team leader of the Mbale network of young people living with HIV, said that poor judicial systems where cases are delayed to be handled, restrictive cultural norms where survivors are perceived as shameful and weak, under-representation of women in power and politics, and parents’ perception of their girls as a source of income. Parents’ forcing the girls to get married, among other things, are also among the key reasons for the rise of SGBV cases.
Dr. Namonyo Franco, the doctor in charge of the UYAHF ADH Clinic, said it is very important for people to always come for SGBV screening.
“During the screening, women and older adolescent girls are exposed to questions concerning their experiences of whether they have been involved in any form of SGBV within the past 12 months, knowing or unknowingly.”
He says the procedure is an important intervention because it allows skilled providers to confidentially, efficiently, and effectively identify individuals who may have experienced SGBV and to improve rates of early detection and referral to health, psychosocial, and protection services.
He encouraged people, especially adolescent young girls, to have courage and always report any form of abuse.
During the show Brian, a caller from Palisa raised a concern that police officers ask for money especially for the police form when one goes to report SGBV cases.
While responding to the concern, SP. Anuso strongly condemned the act and noted that it is absolutely wrong and unacceptable for police to ask for money in any situation. She added that all procedures are free and if an officer asks for money or fails to work on one because he or she has not been given money, one should report him or her to the RDC or RCC’s offices.
At the end of the show, Dr. Franco shared the UYAHF toll-free helplines, including the Suubi helpline, 0800379995, and the clinic line, 200906853 for easy reporting of SGBV cases and any further inquiries on SRHR and related issues.