PAKWACH. A section of women in Japiem Onen village in Panyango sub-county, Pakwach district have appealed to Pakwach chief magistrate to help in phasing out cultural norms that are against them in various parts of the district.
The women claim that the Alur tradition of preserving chairs for men, widow inheritance and denying women land after divorce are still rampant yet they are against their rights.
According to Ms Proscovia Binega, the chairperson Pacego women club, their effort to fight the vice has been made hard by men accusing them of violating cultural values.
"Our efforts to enlighten women about their rights as human beings has been challenged by men", she said.
Ms Binega revealed that the setbacks against women have deprived them from accessing justice before clan leaders and council of elders during case hearings in villages since it is believed that women aren't obliged to testify against men.
She said in Panyango sub-county, response to advocacy is slow due to the cultural belief that women are the property of men.
Ms Jane Awekonimungu, 45, said the rate of ignorance among women about their rights needs massive sensitization, adding that the vice has forced many women to even fear taking up leadership positions.
"We grew up knowing that leadership is entirely for men and as a result, a woman has to be loyal to their demands," Awekonimungu said.
She added that in most families, the culture of men preferring to educate boys than girls is still persisting.
“Up to date, the men still believe that paying the girls in school is a waste of resources and when they are divorced, they are denied access to land", she said.
Awekonimungu appealed to the office of the chief magistrate Pakwach for equal access to justice in the courts of law as well as phasing out cultural practices that are against the rights of women.
Mr Mike Okonye in response wondered why clan leaders are suppressing the needs of women basing on cultural norms to deny their rights.
"We have various laws that protect the women in the court, don't be oppressed down here yet there are laws that can protect you", Okonye said.
He regretted why the women are still forced to be inherited without their wish. Okonye noted that the widows have the right to marry men of their choice without being subjected to any cultural condition on the claim of dowry.
He encouraged the oppressed women to report cases of injustice to relevant offices.
The chief magistrate also cautioned village chairpersons against settling disputes beyond their mandates.
But Mr Emmanuel Zakayo, an elder from Japiem Onen in Pokwero said such empowerment for women is detrimental to the tradition.
"Ever since in our tradition, men are superior to women in a clan. Excessive rights to women is spoiling our treasured culture", he argued.