Tina Musuya is the Executive Director Uganda’s Center for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP) and a tireless advocate for ending gender-based violence. CEDOVIP works with communities, institutions, civil society, and the Government of Uganda to promote the rights of women and girls in order to create safer, healthier, happier, relationships, homes, and communities. Their work aims to create change in the attitudes, behavior, and practices that perpetuate violence against women and girls in Uganda.
Tina has been working for CEDOVIP since 2004, where she began as a member of the Local Activism Team and quickly rose to the role of Executive Director. Among her accomplishments at CEDOVIP are drafting and successfully campaigning for the Domestic Violence Act and Kawempe Domestic Bylaw in Uganda and, under her guidance, CEDOVIP winning the 2010 UNAIDS Red Ribbon Award for innovative work in preventing violence against women in HIV.
To learn more about CEDOVIP, visit cedovip.org.
Tina Musuya Podcast Transcript
Interviewer: Tina Musuya is the executive director of CDOVP, the Center for Domestic Violence Prevention. We are talking to her today as we observe 16 Days of activism against gender-based violence.
Interviewer: Welcome Tina
Tina: Thank You
Interviewer: What is gender-based violence, or GBV?
Tina: Gender-based violence is an umbrella terminology that directly talks about the violence that targets women just because they are women and girls, and this is called, in many times, violence against women. The reason it’s called gender-based violence is because it’s premised on the gender power differences between men and women. And often, this form of gender-based violence there are so many types beneath it. It includes sexual violence, which could be like rape and defilement. Then there is domestic violence, which is so rampant as well. There are forms like female genital mutilation that is still under that umbrella of terminology. There are early marriages, there is widow inheritance. It’s really an umbrella terminology that talks about forms of injustices that are really done to women simply because they are women, aimed at keeping them at the control of others.
Interviewer: So how big is it in Uganda?
Tina: Oh in Uganda it’s at epidemic levels. If you look at, for example, domestic violence, the latest Ugandan demographic health survey puts it at 58% women are experiencing violence. Putting it in simple terms it’s like in every 10 women, 6 are experiencing violence. That’s how bad it is.
Interviewer: The theme of this year’s #16days is keeping girls safe in school. How does keeping a girl in school protect her from violence and set her up for success in life?
Tina: Keeping a girl safe in school can do quite many things about keeping her safe from violence. One, if schools are safe spaces where children are protected by adults that is one way of keeping them safe from violence from adults and even fellow students. And also, if schools could be spaces where these children can speak about even hard things they could be spaces where they could find help in case violence happened to them. So when we keep girls safe in schools, we are doing the following things; one we are enabling them to get education, of course, as we all know, education is a core component of development, and that means these children will learns skills of how to speak for themselves and will even get to know about their rights, and most importantly, they will have networks beyond just family members who they can seek information from and then also report in case something bad happened to them. Often, women and girls who have not attended a higher level of education are much more vulnerable to violence than the ones who have had an education because the ones who have had an education are more knowledgeable about their rights and available services, and they can boldly move to any place to seek for services unlike their counterparts who have not had education, they will have limited skills and also have limited reach. Then, if girls can stay longer in school it means that when they have completed education it is most likely that they will have employment. If someone is educated and have employment they are more in charge of their lives than just being dependents who are waited to be manipulated in their lives. That will also delay the onset of pregnancy and childbearing. It is really sickening to see that children of 13 years are parents; they are also children, children who have not even become adolescence. If we don’t keep girls safe in school and help them to complete education, the fight on HIV will never succeed.
Interviewer: If a girl or woman has been a victim of gender-based violence or GBV, what can she do?
Tina: Several things, there are places where they can find help. One, I would start with herself. She needs to know that if she has been sexually abused, if she has been beaten, it’s not her who has a problem. She’s been abused, and therefore she has a right to be protected. So she shouldn’t accept that situation and say (Luganda Unrecognizable). That’s the first step of seeking for help. It’s painful, but you don’t have to shoulder the burden of you causing the problem, and now that gives you the forum to go and report to matter, maybe to police, the child and family protection unit to be specific. You can also go to the health center and talk to the sister in charge, because many health centers, government has provided some serviced for clinical management of gender-based violence because they recognize that if someone has been sexually abused, for example, they are at risk for HIV infection, or sexually transmitted diseases, and also pregnancy. So, at the government health center III’s, those services and there and they are supposed to be free of charge. Please, immediately go. Don’t wait, because the longer you wait the risk of infection becomes real. So as soon as it happens please run for help at the health centers. If it’s in a given neighborhood, you can talk to the LC chairperson, or the women’s secretary, or the secretary for you. Often, these people have useful information to refer you to an appropriate place where you can find help. Then, if it’s in school, the senior women teacher, I think it’s in the boy’s schools it’s a senior men, but someone is there to manage the welfare of the children. Please go talk to those, because often they are connected to organizations that are providing services. Then also parents, let us know that these risks are there. Let us talk to our children to know what abuse is, and for them to remember that you as their parent, mother or father, you mean well for them, and they have to talk to you no matter what the problem is.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government.