ActionAid International Uganda (AAIU) launched the National Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Bench Book on 1 December 2023 at the High Court. AAIU produced the SGBV bench book in partnership with the Judiciary, with support from UNFPA and the Austrian Development Agency.
The Bench Book provides a source of precedents and an analysis of leading judicial decisions on SGBV cases in Uganda and best practices from other jurisdictions. It also incorporates learnings from the experiences of the special sessions of SGBV and child-friendly courts.
The first edition of the bench book is a monumental achievement in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. Xavier Ejoyi, the Country Director of ActionAid International Uganda, noted that the bench book will play an essential role in bringing justice in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.
“As ActionAid, this is a pledge to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and we believe that this book will go a long way in contributing towards access to justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence,” said Ejoyi, AAIU’s Country Director.
The Judiciary, led by Principal Judge Flavian Zeidja, staff from AAIU, UNFPA, and the Austrian Development Agency, attended the event.
The principal Judge, Hon. Flavian Zeija, revealed that the lack of witness protection measures has greatly hindered justice dispensation in cases involving sexual and gender-based violence.
Hon. Flavian expressed confidence that the bench book would help in bringing justice. He said, “We believe that these interventions will give timely justice to victims and immensely eradicate the menace of SGBV crimes in Uganda.”
Justice Batema, the chief consultant in creating the bench book, thanked AAIU and other development partners for supporting the development of the bench book. He gave an overview of the different chapters in the bench book.
Laura Criado, Program Coordinator, UNFPA, said the bench book contributes towards women’s rights. She said, “This bench book will enhance women’s access to justice and contribute to effectively implementing women’s rights in Uganda.
In her remarks, Katja Kerschbaumer, the head of the Austrian Development Agency in Uganda, underscored the need to define gender-based violence comprehensively. She said, “When we talk about GBV, we usually focus on physical violence. I am a big advocate for including emotional violence and other forms of violence. I am delighted that the bench book is complete, and together, we can end physical, emotional, and economic violence.”
The launch of the bench book was timely, especially since it was done in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
ActionAid International Uganda has been a critical player in the fight against Gender-Based Violence. Since 2012, it has supported 36,481 cases of Gender Based Violence in its shelters across the country.