The Luwero District Health Department have advised victims of Gender Based Violence to seek treatment before pursuing justice.
Luwero district is ranked among the leading districts with various cases of Gender-Based Violence.
According to the Annual Police Crime report, Luwero is placed in second position with the highest cases of defilement after recording 76 cases, and fourth position after registering 35 cases of child abuse and torture in 2021.
Dr. Innocent Nkonwa, the Luwero District Health Officer explains that over time, the victims prefer to first report cases to police and pursue treatment later which is not right.
He explained that it’s important for GBV victims for example defiled girls to rush them to health centers for examination and acquire treatment which may include Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent them from contracting HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Nkonwa adds that after seeking treatment, the parents and victims with the support of health centers can now be linked to police to pursue justice after saving their lives.
If taken within 72 hours after possible exposure, PEP is highly effective in preventing HIV/AIDS among GBV victims.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the sooner someone starts PEP, the better because every hour counts and a victim needs to take it daily for 28 days.
Nkonwa also revealed that the district is drafting a plan to ensure that this year People Living with HIV/AIDS can access Antiretroviral (ARVS) drugs at the Parish level.
Salim Zimula, a human rights activist in Luwero town says that the victims are not yet aware of services which include PEP and even some health workers prefer to only fill out Police Form 3A rather than offering treatment.
John Segujja, the Executive Director of Community Development and Child Welfare Initiatives says that it’s always expensive and tedious to pursue the two separately.
Segujja says that health workers always ask for money to fill out police forms and as result parents prefer to pursue the two at the same time to save costs.
“You see if parents go for examination and treatment of the victims, they will need to pay. If they report to police and return with forms, the health workers will again ask them money for filling the forms. So victims prefer to go there after getting the forms,” says Segujja.
But the Assistant Superintendent of Police Patrick Lule, the Acting Regional Savannah Police Spokesperson says that they have no issues with victims seeking first line treatment and later report to the police.
Lule however warns that victims or their guardians shouldn’t take long to report because suspects may flee before arrest.
Lule also asked the victims to seek examination and treatment from only recognized medical personnel since their reports also form part of investigations in the cases.