PAKWACH. Cases of gender based violence (GBV) in Pakwach district have been blamed on land wrangles.

Officials said many women in Pakwach district have become victims of GBV especially during attempts to own pieces of land left behind by their husbands.

Speaking during a sensitization meeting at GAF apartments in Nebbi on Thursday, Ms Matilda Natikunda, the legal officer GBV shelter Nebbi said land disputes in Pakwach are so rampant with women being the main target.

She said on average, they register at least four cases of land related GBV on monthly bases in Pakwach district.

“Women are being accused of witchcraft if they insist on owning land after the death of their husbands. Others are beaten and subjected to all forms of violence just because of land,” Natikunda said.

She cautioned traditional leaders in Pakwach against mistreating widows and accusing them of witchcraft whenever they attempt to reclaim their fallen husbands’ land.

Natikunda also warned the local leaders to stop passing judgment on land matters, saying it is illegal and punishable before courts of law.

She advised the traditional leaders to instead help widows, orphans and girls to get what rightly belongs to them since they also have the right to own land.

Mr Bob Opio, the Alur kingdom Attorney General said in their culture, women can own land at their marital homes. He said it is because of greed that some men deny women the right to own land.

“Culturally, women have access to land ownership but because there is misinterpretation of the culture, men have denied them that right,” Opio said.

But Mr John Jolly Okumu, Panyimur Chief argued that men are the rightful owners of land, adding that it is only men who can inherit land but not women.

“The problem is with women who return back home and their children start struggling over land which they end up selling off. That is why most clans have refused to give land to women,” Okumu stressed.

Mr Pastore Okumu, the secretary Ker Kwaru Junam said as a long term solution, land should be allocated to women before they get married so that in case the marriage fails, they can return home and start using it.

However, Fr. Nicholas Kwawun, the Parish Priest of Pakwach Catholic Parish advised women to start buying their own land to avoid being mistreated by relatives.

“Land has become a limited resource now. I advise women to start buying land for their children instead of relying on the inherited plots,” Kwawun said.