TORORO, UGANDA – An archbishop in Southeastern Uganda is creating a culture of domestic peace in his archdiocese.
Archbishop Emmanuel Obbo of Tororo told the Catholic News Agency of Africa in an interview Aug. 17 that domestic violence is a major challenge present “in almost every family” under his care.
“It’s a concern for the family, it’s a concern for the society, it’s a concern for the Church, and we cannot keep quiet.”
Citing the use of radio programs that cover issues of violence and the involvement of law enforcement in the process of bringing abusers to justice, Archbishop Obbo said that he is involving the entire community to attempt to “reduce domestic violence to zero.”
Every deanery of his archdiocese now has a chaplaincy for domestic violence, and he has placed domestic violence committees at each parish.
The goal of each committee is to reach out to victims and abusers alike. Each committee is equipped to help people consider the causes of domestic violence and to find non-violent ways to respond to everyday issues which can contribute to anxiety and violence in the home.
In a recent World Health Organization survey, one third of women worldwide who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their intimate partner. Similarly, 38% of murders of women in the world are committed by an intimate partner.
Archbishop Obbo said the committees include “families who have passed through (domestic violence), who have been trained and cured or healed themselves, reconciled themselves, and they spread their witness to the others, teaching them from place to place.”
For US Catholics, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently revised and updated their 1992 Statement, titled “When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women.”
Filled with resources and practical suggestions for dioceses and parishes, the statement is addressed to abused women and their abusers, as well as pastors and pastoral staff, and includes statistics and helpful information based on real interactions with victims and perpetrators.
“Violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified,” the statement reads. “Violence in any form– physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal is sinful. Often, it is a crime as well.”
Read the USCCB Statement on domestic violence here.