Female officers have expressed concern over the increasing incidents of sexual harassment and abuse within the Uganda Police Force that go unreported.
The officers who were part of a conference organized by the Police Women Affairs Department, as part of the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence, revealed that most of them had experienced sexual harassment from their colleagues and superiors.
Kisakye Milly, a police officer attached to the Directorate of Research and planning says that most police women have been sexually harassed especially by colleagues and bosses without even realizing that they were being harassed.
The police Professional Standards Unit in 2017 recorded only 13 cases of sexual harassment and victimization which the deputy head of Sexual Gender Based Violence Acting Department Rose Nalubega says are very few compared to what exactly happens in offices and corridors of different offices.
Nalubega says the failure to report cases of harassment is due to the victimization that follows, with more harassment being vented on the victim.
Amon Kazungu, an officer attached to Mukono Police station says that sometimes the victims fail to report simply because they know that even the witnesses will turn against them, making them look like liars.
Sexual harassment is defined as an unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when made towards a person.
While some of the unwanted advances made are refused, many police officers are said to accept the advances when they become persistent mainly due to pressure from other colleagues and friends as well as threats from the people harassing them.
Nalubega says the female officers need to be empowered so that they can say No and mean No.
While the majority of the victims are female, the Acting Commissioner Women Affairs Department Esther Akwango says they have received complaints of sexual harassment from male officers as well.
The Director of Criminal Investigations Grace Akullo who is the only female in the police top management also agreed that there is a problem of sexual harassment, with some female officers benefiting from sexual ranks and sexual deployments. Akullo, however, cautioned against some claims which may not be true especially in issues of deployment.
She says, some female police officers perform poorly due to non supportive families and lack of commitment to their work then blame victimization when they are not deployed to better positions.