Christine Nantambi, 26, a housewife and mother of two children had spent six years in a peaceful cohabitation marriage with her fiancé Ivan Kasule, 29, a resident of Quarter Zone, Kanyanya Parish in Kawempe Division. Once the pandemic broke out last year and a lockdown was announced everything in her marriage changed for the worst.
In March 2020, President Yoweri Museveni declared a total lockdown in the country Uganda that forced most Ugandans to stay in their homes as a measure of controlling the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. Nantambi’s husband, Kasule who works in one of the local graphics companies in Kampala as a Procurement Officer was among the affected people.
The couple had never in their marriage spent so much time close together in a small space until the lockdown. This tested there patience and revealed their true behaviors.
Nantambi says that the longer her husband stayed at home and got familiar to the villagers, the longer he utilized the opportunity to get exposed to several men and women and later started flirting and having sexual relationships with village ladies. “My husband was a good man before the lockdown who couldn’t familiarize with any lady at Kanyanya not until he was stopped from working and started interacting with every cockroach,” Nantambi narrates.
When she attempted to discuss the matter, he instead turned bitter and started beating her seriously until she developed bruises and bled on her face. He also spent some nights with his new village idle friends boozing as they continued to enjoy the lockdown. It was until the neighbors and some of the village leaders that Nantambi sought help from that intervened and settled the issues. But this didn’t return the
previous joyful family environment because within two months, the man resumed his actions.
In July 2020, when the Uganda’s Covid-19 case count reduced to 1,072 including 958 recoveries, President Yoweri Museveni eased the lockdown by reopening several businesses like salons and arcades among others as well as allowing commercial motorcycles commonly known as bodabodas and taxis back on the road. This was great news for Nantambi got by then since she believed that her husband would resume work and become more busy to the extent of forgetting all the slay girls he had dated at the village during the lockdown.
Towards the second lockdown just after the presidential swearing in, the couple got into another phase of misunderstandings. The man accused the wife of attending a burial of one of the neigbour’s brother without his consent which he suspected that Nantambi could have been meeting another man behind his back.
Nantambi disproved him and presented witnesses whom she attended the burial with of which Kasule disagreed with and on that very night they got into a fight. When she tried to seek help from the neighbors, the man instead picked up her belongings – clothes from the house and threw them at the compound, which the residents condemned saying it was a violation of the woman’s dignity.
After all these scenarios, Nantambi decided to leave to one of her sisters’ home at Manyangwa in Wakiso district where she spent a month not until Kasule went and met her parents. Both parties agreed to reconstruct their broken family on condition that each person reforms. But, in August 2021 Kasule resumed his behaviors of beating Nantambi after she attempted to follow up her national identification card at the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) offices in Wandegeya without his knowledge.
“The man undressed me and beat me in front of the children including my very own because I was following up on my National ID card which he was well aware of,” explains Nantambi. She again packed her items and left to start up a new life without torture and disrespect.
The children, a girl of 6years and a boy of 2years were left dropped at their Grand relative where Kasule picked them from. They are now being cared for by a male cousin.
Interacting with Kasule on phone about the situation in his family, he only accused Nantambi for being so luxurious and a thief who used to steal his money that he normally keeps in the house and on the phone. Christopher Ojambo, a Marriage Councilor at Holy Cross Family Ministries Uganda which is a Catholic institution that inspires, promotes and foster prayer life and spiritual well being in the families says that in both lockdowns, they have received between 3- 7 cases of family related issues every day but all of them have been attended to and
He said that most of these cases are both emotional and physical violence derived from adultery, domestic violence, poverty and phones.
According to their analysis, Ojambo says both 2020 and 2021 Covid-19 lockdowns have not been the major contributors of violence in the families but the situations only dag out the hidden behaviors of the victims of marriage separations. He adds that they have only failed to settle two broken families but referred to courts of law.
Hadija Mwanje, the Public Relations Officer for Raising Voices, a non-profit organization based in Kampala that works to prevent violence against women and children says that though they haven’t completed the compilation of their report about violence against children and Gender Based Violence but more cases have been registered since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
She says that the most victims of all sorts of violence are the children in homes, attributing the causes of Gender Based Violence cases to the abuse of power in families. Mwanje however urges the victims of violence to report these cases to the village leaders, police, Raising voices and other authorities.
Speaking to Ritah Aciro, the Executive Director of Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) which is an advocacy organization that coordinates collective action among women’s rights and gender equality, she notes out an increasing cases of Gender Based Violence though few of them are registered due to failure by the victims to report them to the authorities and responsible organizations for help.
The Report findings released on September 22, 2021 by the International Conference on Great Lakes Region- ICGLR on Sexual and Gender Based Violence -SGBV and the Police’s Family and Child Protection Unit in Kampala, indicate that there is still much to be done by Non Government Organizations, the Government agencies, local authorities and police in handling SGBV issues in regards to rehabilitation of victims in the country.
Reading the report findings in a stakeholders meeting in Kampala last Monday, the Lead Researcher for ICGLR Dora Byamukama revealed that most services provided concentrate on provision of one or two types of services to the victims among them being, legal services yet in most cases SGBV victims or survivors require a holistic range of services such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care, financial support,
psychosocial support among others to fully rehabilitate them.
The report further notes that some of the few services provided to the victims are charged for which threatens the victims or survivors to report and this affects the service providers to conclusively work on them. The 2020 Police Crime Report shows that a total of 17,664 cases of domestic violence were registered last year mostly during the Country’s lockdown compared to 13,693 reported in 2019, giving a 29% increase.
It further indicates that of the 18,872 victims of domestic violence, 3,408 were male adults, 13,145 were female adults, and 1,133 were male juveniles while 1,186 were female juveniles.