NEBBI. The increasing cases of gender-based violence (GBV) in the West Nile region have been attributed to misinterpretation of gender.

While presenting the gender concept paper during a capacity building meeting for school teachers and cultural leaders at Leosim hotel on Monday, Ms Yerusa Ayiyorwoth, the Nebbi district gender focal point person said the term gender has widely been misinterpreted by many as being ‘women are equal to men.’

She said this has made many women and men fail to perform their roles thus leading to violence.

“Because of this misinterpretation, many people including men are running away from their responsibilities which has resulted into complete failure in parenting and that is why, there are many cases of child neglect which have contributed to the increasing number of street children,” Ayiyorwoth stated.

She noted that some of the cultural values are good and should not be completely abandoned since they will help promote discipline among the population especially in marriage settings.

“If we adhere to our culture and also rejuvenate the fire place discussions where the young ones are prepared for marriage, then the issue of rape and defilement will be history,” she stressed.

Ms John Jolly Okumu, one of the district officials noted that the people who generated the programmes on gender and women emancipation constructed their ideas mainly for funding purposes.

“The way these programmes were brought, many people misinterpreted them because they looked at culture as being against women yet these roles were not a problem in the past, and there was complete harmony,” Okumu said.

Mr John Tutu, the coordinator cross cultural foundation of Uganda (CCFU) Arua cluster said culturally, women were important and respected but with the introduction of women emancipation and gender, the values are getting lost as women think that what men can do, they are also capable of doing the same.

However, Mr Valence Oyukutu, the Alur kingdom executive secretary said all hope is not yet lost as the little that is left can still be preserved especially if the young ones are brought on board.

“As cultural leaders, we need to work extra hard to convince the people that our culture is not as bad as some people portray it because what our culture does is to give sense of direction and instil discipline in us,” he added.