Viola Namyalo from Uganda: “Domestic violence is increasing during the lockdown”

#GlobalHumanismNow: an update from the Uganda Humanist Association

  • blog Type / Membership blog
  • Date / 15 April 2020
  • By / Giovanni Gaetani

Last week we launched #GlobalHumanismNow, a series of mini-interviews with our Members and Associates from all around the world where we ask them how they are coping with the global coronavirus emergency, to explain what initiatives they are taking, and to tell us how the global humanist community can support them.

We published three interviews so far:

Today we speak with Viola Namyalo, Membership Director of the Uganda Humanist Association (UHASSO) and Regional Committee Chair of Young Humanists International’s African Regional Committee.

Humanists International: Hi Viola, thank you for accepting our invitation. What is the current situation in Uganda? 

Viola: The situation in Uganda is pretty bad and it keeps getting worse. Today (April 10th) we have 54 confirmed cases. We are happy that no deaths have been confirmed so far. The country is under lockdown and there is a curfew from 7 pm to 6 pm.

And how is your country responding to the emergency so far?

As mentioned, we are under lockdown and the government has closed almost all institutions except the ones considered to be essential. Public transportation was stopped and people are expected to stay at home. There are some efforts to provide extremely poor individuals with some food.

How have the measures affected society?

Unfortunately, reports show a local and global increase in domestic violence cases, especially towards women. Indeed, a lot of women who were already at risk of abuse before are now locked in their own houses with their violent partners and no way of escape. They cannot even look for help because of the quarantine. It’s a terrible situation.

In addition, the most vulnerable people in society (like the ones who are ill, the extremely poor and pregnant women) find it hard to access health services without public transportation which has led to some deaths.

And how has the emergency affected your organization and the individuals within it? And how are you responding to the emergency?

In July 2019 UHASSO organised a successful two-day humanist workshop in Kampala with 57 participants from all over the country

The organization has paused its activities. Before this happened, we were lobbying for legalizing humanist marriages also with the support of a Humanist Development Grant from Humanists International.

We are happy that we had the chance to hand over our petition to the Parliament, the Ministry of Justice and The Uganda Registration of Services Bureau before the lockdown. We successfully collected over 400 signatures from all over the country. The organization is looking forward to hearing from them after this pandemic.

We created awareness about this pandemic both online and through our community radio at Pearl Vocational Training College. Raising awareness online has worked well for people in the city while the community radio has worked well for people in more rural areas.

More in general, how do you think we should face this emergency as humanists? Which humanist principles should we value most right now?

As humanists, we should listen to what the health workers are telling us, because more than ever this is the time to embrace science. It is very important that we show love and care for each other. This can be done through checking on each other via text messages – little things like this make people feel loved.  It also gives them a reason to carry on during this difficult time.

How can the international community support your efforts?

Viola during the 2018 General Assembly of Young Humanists International in Auckland (New Zealand)

We need financial support to create more awareness where possible. Our awareness message broadcasted at the community radio can reach out to four villages but we would like to reach out to more villages. In addition, we want to give out some basic products like soap and masks, especially in the remote areas the government has neglected. The government is only concentrating on poor people in urban areas and leaving out the less fortunate living in rural areas. Any help given to us is appreciated.

And what is your message to the global humanist community?

We should continue taking care of ourselves, check on our colleagues with simple texts and of course keep smiling and being positive in this difficult time.

Thank you for participating to the #GlobalHumanismNow series, Viola!

I thank you for giving me a chance to speak to the world during this hard time, Giovanni.

If you represent a Member or Associate of Humanists International and you want to participate to the #GlobalHumanismNow series, please contact us at [email protected]

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