Ugandan policemen have got quite the reputation for being harsh, but they showed their softer side on Saturday as they stepped out to advocate for an end to violence against women.
The march was the culmination of a 16 day activism campaign to put a stop to violence against women. The men in uniform were seen walking around the city in high heels, putting paid to an event that was dubbed “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes”.
Walk A Mile In Her Shoes had been organised by the Gender Ministry. The men walked a mile, about 1.6 kilometers, in women’s high-heeled shoes, protesting sexualized violence while educating their communities and raising money for chronically underfunded rape crisis centers, women’s shelters and other sexual violence prevention and recovery services.
Very few of the men were able to make it to the end without giving up and switching to loafers or sneakers but the gesture alone made a powerful statement. The march was a project of Venture Humanity Inc. a U.S.-based nonprofit.
It had been sponsored by U.N. Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality. The march was an important one considering violence against women had been on the rise in recent years. Police officers say that they have seen an increase in the number of rape and domestic violence cases in recent years.
Although the increase in cases seen by the police can be attributed to the fact that more women are now reporting such assaults, the statistics are still troubling. The Ugandan Bureau of Statistics estimated that nearly 70 percent of married women are subjected to violence by their partners.
Uganda actually has very strict laws against domestic violence and rape, but they are rarely enforced. For instance, a U.S. State Department report for 2014 showed that over 1,000 Ugandan women reported rapes in 2013 but there were only 11 convictions that year.
Representatives of Uganda’s police force who came out to join the march said that they were committed to stepping up efforts in their communities.