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A Legislator Has Sparked Online Fury For Saying Men Should Beat Their Wives

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A Ugandan politician has attracted the wrath of domestic violence advocates and social media users this week after saying that domestic violence is sometimes necessary, the BBC reports.

Onesimus Twinamasiko, an independent MP representing Uganda’s western Kibaale district, told local television channel NTV that, “as a man, you need to discipline your wife.” He added: “You need to touch her a bit, you tackle her, beat her somehow to really streamline her.”

The lawmaker was apparently responding to a recent address by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to religious leaders, in which the longtime president urged clergy to confront perpetrators of domestic violence and support victims of abuse. Museveni called men who beat their wives “foolish and cowardly.” Twinamasiko said the president had made an “error.”

Twinamasiko’s statement drew ire from domestic violence advocates in Uganda, where a 2016 Demographic and Health survey found that 38% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 experienced physical or sexual domestic violence and 68% of women were afraid of their partner or spouse.

Diana Kagere of the Center for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP) said Twinamasiko should “make a public apology” to victims of domestic violence and “do the honorable 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,” she told the BBC. Members of the public have called for Twinamasiko to step down, but the MP defended his comments in an interview with BBC Focus on Africa, saying violence helped “sort out…differences” in his own marriage.

“When a man slaps a wife or when a wife slaps a man for something which could have angered either, it means there is transparency,” he said. “If my wife slapped me, I would feel okay, because she is opening up, she’s being transparent, and it means we need to sort out something.”

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Write to Eli Meixler at eli.meixler@time.com