Violence knows no education; sexual violence in Northern Uganda

She was no ordinary woman. In fact she was a headmistress at a primary school in northern Uganda. Akello (not her real name) had been married for many years to a man he never stayed with.He was an LCV councilor, one who supposed to go to the district and speak about people’s struggles and try to ensure funding goes to the priorities of the population. He was also polygamous, reason for not staying with Akello for many years. He had four wives, something uncommon in many parts of rural Uganda. After many years without him around, Akello started a relationship with another man though the marriage was not dissolved. Her husband who had been away for two years came rushing back on learning the news of a new man.

He came back to Akello’s home found the other man had just left. “He asked for sex and Akello being still marriage to him she couldn’t say no,” a friend told me. “The sex was violent and she tried to resist in vain. The husband got a pair of scissors, inserted it into her vagina, as far as it could go and started cutting.” She was unconscious and when she woke up there was a lot of blood. “She didn’t seek medical attention because she was afraid and even her reputation was at stake so she kept this to herself.”

It wasn’t long, she started passing pus and then she realized she had to a hospital. “It was in hospital that we learnt of the story and the extent of injuries the husband inflicted on, a few minutes before she died,” the friend said, “you know violence knows no education.” The husband was arrested and jailed, the women of Pader walked through the streets to protest this kind of treatment of women. In fact they wanted to lynch him.

I listened to this story while on the road around Agago about a week ago. I just kept telling myself no, this didn’t happen here. Look the war is over, only rebels or ruthless soldiers or the distraught would do that or this  I read from many Africa’s sexual abuse-characterized wars. This was a puzzle, yes the war has been here, for over 20 years and it’s only a few years since this area saw some sort of peace. I kept wondering why this man would go to this extent. And yes I went ahead and asked, many in the car pointed to war trauma. But still i can’t find much answers. This happened in December; it never got much media coverage and partly is because since the war ended this area rarely makes it to the page one in Ugandan news. Not much has been done in rehabilitation and we only have briefs from the north despite the challenges faced by communities in post conflict Uganda.