UGANDA, Kabale | Real Muloodi News | According to a survey conducted by Kigezi Women in Development (KWID), the majority of women in Kabale District are unaware of their land ownership rights. They are also ignorant of what to do if their land ownership rights are abused.
KWID is a non-profit organisation operating in the districts of Kigezi in South Western Uganda. It focuses on empowering women, girls, and other vulnerable groups to help them exercise their rights and participate actively in decision-making processes that concern them, among others.
Section 38A(1) of the Land (Amendment) Act of 2004 states that every spouse shall enjoy the security of occupancy on family land.
Security of occupancy means a right to access and live on family land.
However according to Frolence Tumuheirwe, the executive director of KWID, many women are not aware of their land ownership rights, and therefore it is alarming how many women are denied their right to security of occupancy.
The survey conducted by KWID occurred between December 2021 and February 2022, focusing on the understanding of 200 women about their land rights.
The survey took place in Kabale District; an area known for land shortages due to its high population and hilly terrain. Particular focus was given to women in the sub-counties of Kyanamira and Buhara where there is a higher case of land wrangles.
Tumuheirwe says that 95% of the women interviewed were not aware of the land law and policy governing land ownership. The women also said that they only knew that land belonged to men.
73.5% of the interviewed women responded they had experienced land gender-based violence with their family members over ownership rights.
Only three of the interviewed women knew that courts of law were access to justice if they suffer any abuse of their land rights. The rest, who were the majority, did not know where to go for justice.
They also interviewed 20 technical leaders at sub-county and district levels, among whom, only 5 knew about land policies favouring women.
Tumuheirwe says that such feedback shows a great need to increase land rights awareness in the district.
Edismary Musimenta, 55, a resident of Rujanjara Village in Muyimba Parish, Kyanamira Sub-county, narrated that in 1986, she married her husband, Bruno Sserunkuma and gave birth to seven children.
However, Musimenta narrates that her mother-in-law did not see the need to give her land to raise the 7 children.
She adds that her mother-in-law forcefully sold most of the land, arguing that her late son’s widow had no right to own land.
Musimenta disclosed that she is seeking legal help from the National Foundation for Democracy and Human Rights in Uganda (NAFODU).
Agnes Night, 48, at Kabisha Village, Kyanamira Sub-county, also says that she has been married for 22 years and has four children.
However, 15 years ago, her husband developed a mental problem, and her in-laws took away all the land.
Night did not bother using relevant authorities because of her in-laws’ harshness.
She now survives by working as a casual labourer in gardens to cater for the family.
Grace Kemirembe, a 49-year-old resident of Buhara Sub-county, says she has spent 26 years in marriage.
However, five years ago, her husband died, and her brother-in-law ordered her to surrender all the land to them.
Fortunately, Kemirembe had been attending Uganda Change Agent Association meetings in which she was sensitised about her land rights.
This gave her the courage to fight against her brother-in-law using relevant authorities until she was victorious.
Christopher Namara, the Kabale District Senior Community Development Officer, says that daily, the office of the District Probation Officer registers domestic violence cases involving relatives grabbing land from widows.
Namara says that since they lack funds to sensitise women about land ownership rights, they only stop at reconciling the parties and referring them to court.
The Assistant Superintendent of Kigezi Regional Police says that the problem started from an old culture of parents who would not consider a girl child while sharing family land.
He, however, says that authorities are trying to educate the people that even women have land ownership rights.
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