Stories that break my heart

It’s at dusk, a young woman is returning home outside the countryside town of Soroti. Crackling of military uniform and sound of army boots and gun butts by approaching patrol soldiers are heard.  “Wewe nani?”(Who are you?) a thundering order comes through the darkness.

There is a sudden halt. The 28-year-old Grace Nakasi, a victim of an insurgency in eastern Uganda, is pulled off the road to the bush and gang-raped by the men in uniform.

“I was living in Soroti town. One evening I was walking to the Senior Quarters where I lived. I met nine soldiers on patrol at about 7:00 pm. They all raped me and abandoned me by the roadside,” Nakasi begins her story.

She was rescued by another group of soldiers and taken to hospital. The area was on high security alert because of the ongoing  insurgency in the area at the time. Her assailants were never identified and

Grace Nakasi spoke to me at the African Union summit. Rosebell Kagumire photo

arrested to answer for their crimes. She has never gotten justice.

This was 1987, a year after President Yoweri Museveni had captured the reigns of state power and announced “a fundamental change, not mere change of guard.” The heinous incident marked the dawn of repeated sexual violence against Nakasi and many other women in conflict areas

One night a year later, Nakasi received information that her parents had been killed by rebels. There was still a heavy presence of soldiers in the town, but the death of her parents could not allow her stay in her house.

“I couldn’t just sit back even though I knew the area was insecure. I decided to go to the bus park to take a bus to visit my home,” Nakasi narrates with suppressed sadness. It was on the way to the bus park that Nakasi became a victim of the second rape. Read more