NEBBI. The officials of Action Aid Uganda, Nebbi cluster have decried the level at which the Alur traditional Chiefs in Nebbi are violating the rights of women in the district.

For the past five years, Action Aid Uganda with funds from the Department for International Development (DFID) has been implementing the gender-based violence (GBV) shelter project in the district. The project is aimed at strengthening efforts towards achieving equal access for opportunities and a life free from violence by women and men.

But while addressing the Alur Kingdom officials on Tuesday, Ms Angela Akoth, the GBV shelter project programs manager noted that out of the 80 per cent GBV cases registered at the shelter, 60 per cent are against the traditional Chiefs.

She said, this clearly indicates that there is a problem with the cultural leaders that needs to be addressed.

“Chiefs are respected people in the society and it is painful that most of them are violating the rights of women whom they are supposed to protect,” Akoth said.

She added that most of the women are accused of witchcraft simply because the perpetrators want to grab their land and property, and that is why, most of the victims are widows.

Ms Grace Maditkwo, the psychosocial support officer at the shelter said witchcraft accusation is on the rise and it is mostly against vulnerable women who are fined exorbitant amount of money to pay and if they fail, they are evicted from their land and their properties confiscated.

“What disturbs me is that, it is only women who are accused of witchcraft and this only happens after they have lost their husbands. Then their brothers in law come up with these allegations in order to take over their land and property,” Maditkwo stressed.

However, Ms Diana Bayo, the GBV shelter legal officer said Alur culture has prevented the people from enjoying their rights because there are so many injustices being practiced in the community and predominantly against women.

“Recently, a widow was accused of witchcraft and was given two days to pay shs1 million and a goat in Nyachara. This was unfair because even her land was not worth a million shillings. Therefore, the Chiefs need to work in the best interest of the community and protect the women instead of victimizing them,” she appealed.

Ms Grace Acanda, one of the victims of GBV said after her husband’s death, the area Chief accused her of witchcraft and she was asked to pay shs500,000 to prove her innocence.

Besides, Acanda said she was humiliated and charged to pay additional fine which she has failed to raise. Acanda noted that the condition has since forced her to run to Action Aid for help.

But Mr Jepther Urom, the Speaker of the Council of Chiefs who doubles as the Chief of Padwot denied the allegations, saying all the Chiefs have been trained on human rights and before they make any judgment, they always follow the right procedure not to falsely accuse anybody.

“We are the custodian of the culture and tradition of our people and we also have our own traditional justice system which we follow," Urom said