By Felix Oketcho
Legendary gospel musician Judith Babirye currently living in Canada located in the northern United States of America is destined to return after months of nursing gender-based violence-Gender Minister, Betty Among has confirmed.
“I personally talked to Judith Babirye who expressed her dilemma of gender-based violence after being battered on daily basis by her husband. She was forced to leave the marriage and the country to heal but will return soon,” Among said.
Among was presiding over a high-level meeting on financing gender-based violence prevention in Kampala. The meeting was attended by officials from government ministries, departments and agencies and local government leaders.
Among urged local leaders to intensify monitoring of gender-based violence in their budgets and plans to mitigate the challenge.
Judith Babirye was married to Buikwe North legislator Paul Musoke Ssebulime although their marriage was short-lived due to gender-based violence.
Later matters arose to the Court that dissolved their 17-months marriage on grounds of cruelty. The Court’s action was after Ssebulime revealed that he did not want any ruling by court as regards marital property but rather the dissolution of the marriage on grounds that his right to have sex with Babirye had for long been violated.
Justice Olive Mukwaya Kazaarwe of the High Court Family Division heard the divorce application and ruled that Ssebulime gave a detailed account of what he perceived as Babirye’s cruel actions towards him which caused him to suffer mental and psychological torture.
“It was the contention the respondent (Babirye) has acted in a manner that shows no respect to the petitioner. There was a denial of conjugal rights, isolation of the petitioner from his social interactions with the community and the long unexplained absences without communication all served to cause the petitioner distress,” the court heard.
Justice Kazaarwe ruled that the actions of Babirye’s refusal to cohabit with Ssebulime with some degree of permanence and her long unexplained absence were not a demonstration of commitment to the success of their marriage.
The court observed from the evidence provided that within a month of their marriage ceremony, Babirye had left the marital union with no explanation to Ssebulime.
“There was no time for ordinary wear and tear of marriage. However, the respondent withdrew her companionship from the petitioner not on one but on a number of occasions. When she left the last time, she did not call, text, email or communicate in any other available way. The petitioner did not know of his wife’s whereabouts for seven months he waited before he filed this petition,” the Judge held.
Justice Kazaarwe noted that Babirye refused to participate in the proceedings and hence court did not have a benefit to hear her side.
Court heard that Ssebulime and Babirye lived together for two months, thereafter, the latter disappeared for two months and came back on December 1, 2018, before leaving again on December 22 to a place unknown to Ssebulime. Through his lawyers, Ssebulime told court that Babirye failed to differentiate between being married and being a celebrity.
According to Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS)-2016, 56% of every married woman and 44% of every married man have experienced spousal violence whether physical, sexual or emotional.
According to the gender ministry policy brief, 18,872 people experienced domestic violence during the lockdown.