I have just read the anti Pornography Bill that is currently before our parliament. This Bill was brought soon after the MPs stifled debate on the Marriage and Divorce Bill, which millions of Ugandans need urgently in place.
Lokodo’s anti-pornography bill however doesn’t just threaten women; it is attacking press freedom too. The media is portraying the Bill as a ‘mini-skirt’ law but if passed it has far reaching consequences on press freedom, freedom of expression, Internet freedom, right to privacy and culture.
According to the Bill
Pornography means any cultural practice, radio or television programme, writing, publication, advertisement, broadcast, upload on internet, display, entertainment, music, dance, picture, audio, video recording, show, exhibition or any combination of the preceeding that depicts (for now I concentrate on the clause) “Sexual parts of a person such as breasts, thighs, buttocks and genetalia.”
I am also angered and saddened by comments of our Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo in this Guardian article . He says:
“Any attire which exposes intimate parts of the human body, especially areas that are of erotic function, are outlawed. Anything above the knee is outlawed. If a woman wears a miniskirt, we will arrest her.” “Men are normally not the object of attraction; they are the ones who are provoked. They can go bare-chested on the beach, but would you allow your daughter to go bare-chested?”
These comments cannot be understood in any other way than being an outright attack on women and their sexuality, their freedom of expression and right to live the way the wish. Lokodo permits attack on women and blames sexual violence on women victims. These comments are part of wide efforts to politicize women’s dressing and obsession with women’s sexuality. In the Bill, Lokodo says “ponography fuels sexual crimes against women and children.”
I am moved to ask why do we have rape even in the most remote corners of our country? Did the Ugandan army watch porn before they raped several women and men during the northern Uganda war? Do all men that defile more than 600 children a year in Uganda watch pornography? Do all the more 500 raped women reporting to police every year wear miniskirts? Do hundreds of uncles and fathers that molest young girls in their families watch pornography? Too many questions on my mind! This is just insulting the dignity of victims of sexual violence
We have more urgent, pressing needs, young Ugandans need jobs, 16 women die everyday in my country due to preventable pregnancy related complications, Lokodo and his fellow ministers everyday dig deeper in our pockets stealing our hard-earned money. Thousands of girls do not complete primary education even with the faulty UPE system in place. But Lokodo and the regime he represents wont tackle all these! What is more immoral than distract our country from important debates on these issues?
It is ironic that this is a bill proposed by a minister who hails from Karamoja, a region where people are free in their nakedness. The pastoralist communities are known to roam looking for pastures wearing as little clothing as possible and they are free in their culture. Such a bill would be an indictment to such ethnic groups in away.
For now I wanted to say, this is pornography according to Lokodo. If Lokodo gets his way around parliament these photos could earn a person who publishes them imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine or both!
And if you viewed these ‘pornographic’ photos you too could be imprisoned!