Profile: Charity Namara – On A Mission To End Gender Based Violence

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Charity comes from a patriarchal society in western Uganda where violence is normalized and glorified, and she is on a mission to ensure that every woman and girl has the right to reach their full potential free from violence.

Growing up in a society where there was a large amount of violence against women in her village and seeing young girls her age go through it, Charity studied Social Work and Social Administration and started her first job with World Vision Uganda out of university that cultivated her interest in finding a solution to gender-based violence.

She tells the story of Agnes, a 10-year-old in 4th grade with ambitions of becoming a doctor. Charity met Agnes in 2012 through her work with Plan International-Uganda. Agnes lived in a slum in Bwaise, Uganda. Agnes was raped by her uncle, a man she trusted. When she was taken in to see medical personnel to prove her assault, the doctor falsified her record and refused to acknowledge that she was violated.

Agnes was taken in for a second opinion by Charity with support from Plan International Uganda and it was discovered that she was defiled to the point of permanent disability, which ultimately led to her death. The police took her uncle to jail, but the family of Agnes asked for his immediate release due to the taboo that sexual assault carries in their community – it is more stigmatized to be a victim than a perpetrator.

In a country where rape cases are escalating, assuring the victims of violence their rights is a little more than a dream. The Ugandan Police Annual Crime report for 2013 indicates rape as the leading sex related crime reported in the country with a total of 9,598 cases reported compared to 8,076 cases registered in 2012 and 7,690 reported in 2011.  This implies that 26 girls – most of them adolescents – are defiled every day in Uganda, which further translates into three girls every hour. This is not just the case of one girl, but the story for millions all over Uganda and Africa as a whole.

The limited capacity of health professionals in handling cases of sexual violence and the lack of financial and human resources to key actors in prevention and response to gender-based violence contributes to this injustice. The pervasive negative attitudes and practices by the community further the violence, and the ill-equipped police department is no match for handling a situation of this scale.

Charity wants to raise awareness for gender-based violence that pervades in African communities. She advocates that there should be a preventative system to educate boys who will become the changed men in the community, and an effective system implemented by the Ugandan government to punish perpetrators, and a positive environment of rehabilitation for the victims supplied by an emergency fund for survivors of sexual violence.

Charity is calling on the government to implement this monitoring and preventative system, societal organizations to change the paradigm that promotes gender-based violence, and each individual to do their part in educating their children about sexual violence and raising awareness for those who suffer from this great injustice.

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