Lydia Namusowe, 24, and a mother of one, was probably hoping to get what many women her age are looking for. She probably wanted to have a good career path, or start a business that would earn her income.
Maybe she wanted to start a family – marry a loving spouse, have children and build a home with them. Perhaps she thought of going (back) to school, to get some certification which would give her an advantage when searching for a job.
Whatever her dreams or plans, they were crushed, early in the morning, on Saturday February 21, when Namusowe breathed her last. The police say, by his own admission, her boyfriend strangled her to death after a domestic brawl.
There are many sad issues arising from this death. A son has lost his mother. A family has lost their daughter and sister. A community has lost someone. This is how domestic violence affects the nation. It does not affect just one person in the house it is happening. Its effects ripple across, maiming people for life, causing grievous injury and death and ruining homes and communities.
Between 2009 and 2013, police recorded 39,902 defilement cases across Uganda. Worse still, the 2013 Police crime report also showed that defilement and domestic violence had the highest number of crime cases in the country.
But those are only recorded cases. Many more are not recorded, let alone reported. A 2010 Human Rights Report for Uganda indicates that 60 per cent of women aged 15 and above have faced domestic violence in their lives and of those, 15 per cent faced violence when they were pregnant.
Even when people report the crimes, it is difficult for the case to see a logical conclusion. The 2010 Human Report states that this happens partly because the police lack criminal forensic capacity to collect evidence.
This is probably why out of 619 rape cases registered at the Police in 2009, less than half – 240 – went to court. At the end of the day, there were only 12 convictions.
Apart from the Police not having the capacity, the fear and shame that comes with domestic violence, stops many women and men from talking about the abuse they are facing. As with many such cases, change begins with individuals. The sufferers need to come out of the silence. The support system such as the courts and police need to be diligent with these cases as they are with others such as murder.
But all these people can only do that if they are empowered and equipped to do so. Unless they are supported, domestic violence will continue to cripple the growth of our communities.