Cases of domestic violence especially targeting women and children have consistently risen in the last five years, according to statistics by Uganda Police.
Such cases include violence, women trafficking, defilement, rape, child kidnap, child trafficking, child torture, incest, and child desertion among others.
A report released by Police in 2017, capturing incidents of domestic violence between 2010 and 2016 indicated that reported cases of child torture increased to 808 in 2016 from 660 cases in 2010 while child neglect rose from 4,967 in 2010 to 5,692 in 2016.
But perhaps the most shocking revelation is that in 2010, a total of 109 women died as a result of domestic violence compared to the 163 that dies in 2016.
Unfortunately, these statistics only capture the cases where women are brave or desperate enough to report to police. However, the prevalence of domestic violence is higher than this as several women silently continue to be victimized and battered by their partners, for fear of stigma.
One of the victims of this brutal treatment is Prisca Baike, a journalist of the Observer Newspaper and a mother of two children. She recently came out to reveal the tormenting violence that she has persevered in her relationship for the last four years they have been together.
Prisca has been beaten, traumatized, chased out of her home, deprived of support for her sick kids but worse of all, denied access to her two children at the hands of her husband and rights activist, Willington Ssekadde.
She recounts her husband at one time telling her; “I have beaten you, insulted you and chased you but you are not leaving. If you don’t want to leave this house alive, tell your people to buy a coffin in which they will take you.”
The two met four years ago, in March 2013 and happily lived together in Kireka, a Kampala suburb. Little did Priscah know that soon enough their relationship would turn into a nightmare characterized by assault. She reveals that the physical torture by her husband began when she started asking about plans for marriage.
“He first laid his hand on me when I was six weeks pregnant with our first child in September 2013. Later at seven months of pregnancy, I had locked myself in the bathroom of our rented Kireka muzigo to escape his beating when he forcefully kicked the door open, nearly killing me in the process. I went back home to my parents and delivered our daughter from there,” Prisca narrates in a post she wrote on her Facebook page.
Like many other women, Prisca has silently persevered physical torture and psychological trauma until yesterday, Friday when she decided openly come out to reveal her horrible ordeal.
“Seeing that our innocent child needed both her parents, I gave him another chance and in 2015, we had a second child who was prematurely born due to an infection and the stress I was enduring in the abusive violent marriage,” she adds.
But soon, Ssekade began stopping Prisca from working and she says he even began beating her each time she attempted to go to work. “He started threatening to kill me for competing with him by working”.
In April last year, she left the house and took her two kids to her parents’ home in Mbale as she had no place to stay. But she says the husband never called her or any member of my family to ask about her and the kids.
When their child was due for an otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) operation, Prisca asked for money for the procedure but her husband told her; “If you can’t afford the operation, you burry him”.
“After the boy had recovered, Willington went to my parents’ home to kidnap the kids but luckily, the neighbours saw him and called police. He was put on a seven year police bond and asked to start supporting the children”.
Months later, she received a phone call from her daughter’s teacher telling her that a man claiming to be my daughter’s father had gone to school with armed police women led by ASP Lydia Birungi and AIP Sarah Kawuma and abducted her daughter along with the school headteacher, throwing the entire school in panic.
In a twist of events, Prisca was handed a custody order from Mukono court that had granted Willington custody to the two children (a 3-year-old and 2-year-old).
But surprisingly, court never gave Prisca a hearing on the issue before deciding to deny her custody rights, which goes against all principles of natural justice.
“Since I was given visitation rights, I settled for that because I was tired of fighting and tossing the kids from one home to the other. What hurts me is that he doesn’t want me to see my children”.
“He never picks my calls, he never calls me. I absolutely know nothing about my kids’ whereabouts as he keeps telling me they have shifted whenever I ask to see them,” the mother of two tender kids says.
She says she last saw her two kids two months ago. She has been insulted and threatened to stay away from them, and her father sued by Willington for taking care of the kids without his knowledge.
Ironically, Willington Ssekadde, the man accused of persistently battering his lover and subjecting his little children to such traumatizing experience, is a renowned child rights and women rights activist.
He formerly worked as a Programs Manager at Raising Voices, a Kampala based non-profit organization that works to prevent violence against women and children. In his work, he has represented Uganda across the globe championing children’s rights gender based violence.
Prisca says “Due to his [husband] work history, he knows so many influential people in the family courts, Police, the gender and justice ministries, plus he has all the money to bribe anyone”.
It is for the same reasons that she reported the matter to FIDA (Association of Uganda Women Lawyers) but was not helped.
FIDA ‘provides professional and social support for women to ensure the human rights and the inherent dignity of women and children using law as a tool of social justice’.
Willington recently told Prisca that he got a new wife with whom they are raising the two children.
“All I want are my kids. I have not heard from them in over three months since he and his relatives don’t talk to me,” she says.
“Everytime I ask him to let me see my kids, it is as if I have opened a can of worms for endless insults. I’ve tried several lawyers but this man has so many connections”.
The hurting mother at one point resorted to drinking so as to calm her stress down but this couldn’t make things any better. She worries for the welbeing of her very young kids and how they are faring in the midst of a furious father and absence of the much needed motherly care.
Prisca is willing to have shared custody of the kids “because I know we are both equally important to our children’s life but he is so bitter yet I am the victim in all this”.
She is appealing to fellow women, activists, authorities, lawyers, parents and the media to come to her rescue as well as other women suffering at the hands of violent men.