Recent demographic research has indicated that about 56% of all married couples in Uganda have experienced some form of domestic violence.
Most perturbing, however, as activists say, is the fact that to-date, government and the population as a whole are yet to clearly identify the connection between this violence and privately owned firearms.
While gun possession remains criminal in the country, the growth and expansion of the national economy and thus a need to protect people’s massive wealth, mistrust amongst politicians, and proliferation of private security companies; all have seen more firearms infiltrate people’s homes.
“We are receiving more cases of firearm-instigated home violence than ever before and we fear that this trend is not by any means going down soon,” grieved Ms Tina Musuya, the Executive Director Center for Domestic Violence Prevention [CEDOVIP].
“The number of gun-wielding husbands is on the rise, and sadly, many of our families are being run by these weapons.”
She added: “Young women out there are stuck with military husbands. Police wives tell us that their men have lately become super-polygamous in those small houses; every time she raises such a concern, the man simply grabs his AK, loads it and places it on the table, and that is end of the discussion!”
Because of increased dependence on firearms for safety in homes, for every little argument that breaks out in the house, everybody rushes to the corner to grab the weapon first.
Musuya blamed authorities for failing to take family related precautions before licensing someone to carry a gun.
“We have learnt that once a person applies to be granted gun ownership, authorities spend weeks only studying his/her conduct at work and in public places, and ignore checking this person’s behaviour back home,” she said at a domestic violence conference held at Makerere University on Thursday.
“This is an area that needs urgent redress or we are headed for genocide of sorts.”
In extreme cases, these weapons are used not only to impose men’s assertions on their wives, but also in facilitating marital rape.
“One case that blew us last year involved a woman whom we found rotting because her husband had been shoving his pistol in her private parts for three months,” Musuya narrated.
She further went on: “He accused her of seeing other men and that since he had paid for her dowry; he had the right to have sex with her without exposing himself to STDs!”
Though the man was later arrested and jailed, his wife could not survive the injuries.
Musuya thus urged that government swiftly commences working on necessary legislations to manage control of use of firearms, since their ownership is becoming more inevitable by the day.