Justice, Uganda

Rape and the culture of victim blaming in Uganda

This blog post is part of the Blog Action Day and this year’s theme is human rights.

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At the end of September, a Youth Minister in Uganda Kibuule went on record to say a woman who is indecently dressed and is raped should face charges and the perpetrator should be set free. Journalists recorded his voice at a function in the western district of Ntungamo and the next day newspapers carried the story.

Kibuule ran to radio stations claiming he was misquoted, he even opened a twitter account to dig into the debate where I and many Ugandans had contributed condemning this rape apologist.

More than 20 girls are raped everyday in Uganda but the silence continues. Most of these rapes are committed by close friends and relatives. But for people like Kibuule, the obsession with women’s bodies blind them from the reality.

They blame clothes not perpetrators. Like many other instances in Uganda, a minister like Kibuule can abuse women and spread hate speech and incite violence and get away with it.

Not much time has passed and we are hearing a harrowing account of 23 year old girl who was gang-raped by Pakistani men.

There’s a public outcry and like in many other sexual violence cases it has emerged the file initially at Kira road police was mismanaged. This girl is living in fear because those who gang-raped have threatened to hurt her more or even kill her. But this is not new, many rape cases are never prosecuted to the end.

It was only last year the Police Form 3 was amended for law enforcement agencies to record medical practitioner’s evidence in cases of sexual violence including rape and defilement.

Before then only Police surgeons could use this form and be acceptable before the courts of law. You would find long lines at the surgeon’s office and there was no privacy. I visited two surgeons while doing a story back in 2008 and it was clear to any one who entered which cases the victims were there to report. A man with her daughter in tears would easily tell you how she’s been raped and many women seated in silence as they waiting for this one man to examine them.

More than the justice system we have a culture of silence and victim blaming. If a woman or girl is raped we have first find out if she didn’t ‘deserve’ it. We need a society that can support rape victims to be able to speak out with out rape apologists like Kibuule threatening them. If we have ministers who are on the side of rapists and actually advocating for rapist’s rights to rape we are far from the morality that we all like to go preaching about.

Like Norbert Mao said, we need to go beyond public outcries whenever cases like these come out.

First, parliament should pass the Sexual Offences Bill. This law should have provisions that protects rape victims from traumatic court sessions, creates a well facilitated sexual assault police unit, creates sexual assault response centres in our health centres to deal with the risk of HIV infection and provide post exposure prophylaxis, and which emphasises protection of child victims of rape. Second, there should be a public education campaign targeting men to sensitize them about the difference between consensual sex and rape. That’s the only way men will understand that women have a right to say no to sex. Is is also the only way we can build a society that can groom men who respect women. Third, we need more men especially those in government and parliament to take a courageous stand to end sexual violence.

Kibuule had some backing and it was heart wrenching to see young men posting on twitter in support of him. They seemed ignorant of the fact that what is decent to them can be indecent to another.
That we have laws and that under no circumstance can one excuse rape.

Those horrified by the Pakistanis who gang-raped this young woman who was only out to look for better employment, must know the link between statements like Kibuule’s and the perpetuation of rape and the silence that follows this crime.
Without structures to cater for such victims even in the face of persistent threats we can’t hide from the fact that our leaders would rather obsess about women’s bodies than put measures to ensure women are protected. If they weren’t obsessed we would see more laws that enhance women’s equality and protection passed. We wouldnt spent time speaking about the length of a skirt when more horror is delivered to our door steps every day!

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Justice, Uganda

Uganda Police to embark on killing spree?

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I woke to this headline and I am yet to understand why Uganda Police heads thought Ugandans will buy into this Bull****. You neglect the country for months to surround Besigye and opposition and make sure they don’t set foot where the powers that be don’t want the, crime increases and now you come to tell us don’t worry we will kill all these thieves!!

You have turned the police into an army. You are supporting mob justice and you think it is worth it announcing your planned killings! This is lazy ass policing where you make killing civilians a priority!

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Africa, International, Justice, Uganda

Let’s go barter: Museveni govt cited in African migrants for Arms deal with Israel

For some time, secrecy had surrounded a racist deal made by an openly racist Israeli government towards African immigrants and some leaders of African countries.
When I first saw this report I thought, what an all-new low we are hitting in assisting trade in humans and promoting racism! I hoped that my president still had some moral bit left especially on an issue that concerned discrimination and dehumanization of Africans. But i was wrong!

A gag order on a secret agreement between governments of Israel and Uganda to deport African immigrants to Uganda was lifted.
Most immigrants in Israel are from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan.

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This deal between President Museveni, and Israel will see Uganda take in tens of thousands of African migrants or in some cases serve as a transit station.
Israeli Interior Minister said that they had obtained consent from Museveni government which a foreign ministry official was quick to refute . I say it is Museveni because there’s almost no respect for other aspects of government by Museveni.

Gideon Sa’ar doesn’t even conceal his racist language!

“In the first stage we will focus on raising awareness within the population of infiltrators while helping them with the logistics of their departure including their airfare and dealing with possession they accumulated.”

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Conflict, International, Justice

UN renews efforts to tackle sexual violence in conflict

Yesterday, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2106 on sexual violence in conflict unanimously in renewed efforts to prevent and tackle the scourge that has come to characterize many conflicts on the globe.

Over the last four decades, the nature and actors in armed conflicts have changed a lot. Today’s wars kill more civilians than combatants and sexual violence particularly against women has become the norm. Also the use of child soldiers increased even if these acts were in violation of the 1949 Geneva conventions.

In 1999, UN Security Council passed Resolution 1261 that condemned the use of child soldiers. The following year Resolution 1325 was passed addressing issues of women in conflict. The Resolution looked at the gender perspective that included the special needs of women and girls in repatriation, resettlement and post-conflict reconstruction.

A woman attends a prayer session at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu DRC where hundreds of sexual violence victims are treated every month. Rosebell's photo.

A woman attends a prayer session at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu DRC where hundreds of sexual violence victims are treated every month. Rosebell’s photo.

Noticing that resolutions over the decade had not done much to deter increased and systematic use of sexual violence as a war tactic, UN Security Council passed Resolution 1820 (2008) that demanded “immediate and complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence against civilians.” And years to follow more resolutions like 1960 were passed to get parties in conflicts to prevent and/or end sexual violence.

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Africa, Conflict, Justice

“No such a thing as a rape culture” – Bangura.

While in Addis Ababa,  i met an amazing women and leader from Sierra Leon. She is also the UN Special Representative of Secretary General on Sexual Violence. Zainab Hawa Bangura opened my eyes on what I usually read in both studies and media reports – they call it culture of rape. I suspect i could have regurgitated such words before.

Listening to Bangura, her zeal, passion and dedication caught me. I am finishing this post coincidentally in Goman, Eastern DR Congo a place which one the high UN ranking officials dared to call the “rape capital of the world.”

And the words of the Bangura were directed at the continued description of African regions where there’s sexual violence in conflict as having “rape culture.” Often a description slapped on Eastern Congo where more than 5 million lives have been lost in wars since 1990s.

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Justice, Uganda, Women

#I6Days: No justice as Uganda female journalist commits suicide after gangrape

It is that time of the year when we dedicate 16 days to remind the world of the endless need to eliminate violence against women.
November 25 is the International Day for the elimination of violence against women. In Uganda various organisations have done a good job using different media to pass the message that ought to be the everyday message to the population.

Tweetups, SMS campaigns, radio talkshows are all on to get Ugandans to understand that violence against a woman is violence against humanity too! That you can judge a society by the way it treats its women.

A week before November 25th, I read a thread on Facebook group that I am part of. It was about a female journalist from Bukedde who had died during childbirth.

We didn’t discuss much. It was just condolence messages although I felt this was time for us to reflect how close issues we cover are to our own lives. In Uganda everyday 16 mothers die due to childbirth. This is due to complications that could be prevented. In many ways maternal health is a social justice issue.

Just as this news was sinking in, another disturbing post came up. A female journalist had committed suicide. Moreen Ndagire, whom I didn’t know personally, was a Sub-editor at a Red Pepper, a leading tabloid in Uganda. At the age of 24, she had achieved quite a lot that not many youth can do in this country with a high unemployment rate.

Moreen Ndagire at her graduation in last year. Photo from Observer.

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Justice, Uganda, Women

Uganda women protest topless against Police public groping of female politician

On Friday, Ugandans witnessed another episode of police brutality. It wasn’t just the brutality we are used to seeing.  In this video ran by NTVUganda  a police officer was, publicly before the cameras, groping an opposition politician Ingrid Turinawe.

Ingrid has been at the forefront of various pressure groups in Uganda for the last 5 years. She was one of the leaders of the Activists for Change (A4C), a pressure group that led the famous Walk to Work protests that took place in many parts of Uganda for the greater part of 2011 as the Arab spring was going on.

The group has been banned because in our country where we still use very colonial laws to the advantage of a dictatorial regime, the attorney general has powers to declare a group illegal even without evidence of  the need to ban them. This law threatens even a blogger or writers who mention A4C as government could claim that they are  promoting an illegal group  with intention to ‘incite violence’. Already two journalists have been summoned by the police over an interview had with the head of the group. Human rights groups have warned on the dangers of the government-increased crackdown on freedom of speech, expression and assembly in Uganda.

Once the group A4C was banned, some of its leaders rebranded it into For God and my Country (4GC), taking after the country motto. It was after the launch of the new group that Uganda police brutality came back to our living rooms.

This time a male police offer publically groping Ingrid as another pulls her leg out of the car. The police officer didn’t grope her once, he did it repeatedly and in the video we hear Ingrid asking why the police officer was doing that. One other police officer warns his colleague but does nothing to stop this.

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