Ugandans have begun a social media campaign calling for the resignation Onesimus Twinamasiko, a member of parliament who said there is nothing wrong if men beat their wives.
Twinmasiko, representing Bugangaizi East constituency, made the comments on Uganda’s NTV, apparently in response to President Yoweri Museveni’s speech on International Women’s Day during which he said that “men who beat women are foolish and cowardly”.
Twinmasiko expressed the belief that “as a man, you need to discipline your wife. You need to touch her a bit, you tackle her, beat her somehow to really streamline her”.
His words were met with strong criticism from social media users in Uganda, with Diana Kagere, one of the country’s leading women’s rights group, saying the lawmaker needs to undergo some form of therapy.
“Mr Twinamasiko should make a public apology to all women who have experienced violence,” said Kagere, founder of the Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP).
“He should do the honourable thing and withdraw that statement. It’s really a shock that a member of parliament would justify violence in any way. This is about crime.”
Many women and activists took to social media to call for the lawmaker’s resignation, using the hashtag #OnesmusTwinamasikoMustResign.
However, in an interview with BBC, Onesimus tried to backtrack on his comments, explaining that he never meant actual fight but rather a slap or two.
“I don’t mean beatings which cause injuries or death — but a slap — I would feel fine! Because it’s calling me to order. We would sit down and sort it out,” he said.
“I was slapped once by my wife and it was OK with me, because we sorted out our differences. I also slapped her once. She had wronged me.”
But Kagare disagrees, saying: “We believe there is no violent solution whatsoever. You never know how far a slap can go. As a couple they can go for couple’s counselling.”
“Many men… their own inner pride stops them from seeking our services, but we want to encourage them that it’s OK to reach out for support in this matter.”
A report published by the Ugandan government in 2017 shows that more than one in five women aged 15 to 49 have experienced domestic or sexual violence.