Women In Uganda are disregarding police orders and spearheading a peaceful demonstration to protest the increased rate of female kidnappings and murders. Between June and September 2017 alone, twenty-three women were horrendously murdered in Wakiso district. The women which ranged from students to employed mothers and even sex workers were often found raped and mutilated with sticks wedged in their vaginas.
The figures place the number of kidnapped and murdered women since May 2017 at a startling 42. Activist groups who make up the under-workings of the march set for 30th June 2018 are asking for accountability, for solid measures that ensure the safety of women in the country. The groups who label the killings as a femicide believe that the laxity in the security response is bolstered by the gender of victims. There is a strong conviction among these protesters that swifter action might have been taken had the victims been male.
On the official Twitter page, the organizers share the stories of some of the victims. There is Faith Komugisha whose naked body was found in a garden behind her house in Kitinda Village on June 19 2017. Her bra and knickers had been removed and put aside, her breasts were exposed, a long stick was inserted into her privates and caked blood lay between her legs.
There is Allen Ampumuza who was 17 and was a resident of Kitende Zone A, in Kajjansi Town Council. Ampumuza’s body was found in May 2017. Surface investigations revealed she had been gang raped and murdered before her body was dumped in a sweet potato garden.
Norah Wanyana, 18 a Senior 5 student at Airforce Secondary School in Entebbe who left home buy food. Her body was found in a banana plantation near Nkumba. A stick had been was inserted in her vagina. She had been raped before being murdered
But the 2017 Wakiso murders is not the only stoke feeding the fire of this March. In July 2015, the body of Desire Mirembe, a first year student of Makerere University was found lying in a plantation in Kibubu village, Lugazi. She’d been raped and had her throat slit by Mathew Kirabo, a fourth year medical student who was charged with her rape and murder.
There is a blame culture in Uganda that is deeply rooted in patriarchy and meted out on women. This idea somehow accuses women to be responsible for however they are treated, from domestic violence cases, to rape, to eventually murders, there is a culture that holds the woman liable.
In 2014, the East-African country passed the Anti-miniskirt bill which was a subset of the anti-pornography bill and which criminalized skimpy dressing. The bill lead to an increase in public female harassment and in the eastern part of the country, seven men were arrested for reportedly targeting women in miniskirts and stripping them naked.
On the 6th of June 2018, activists from the organizing group chaired by Stella Nyanzi in a set of preliminary events leading up to the march stormed the State of Nation Address bearing coffins to draw the president’s attention to the ignored killings. They subsequently engineered a letter addressed to the police notifying them about the march.
Protesters bearing coffins at the state of union address, June 2018. Credit: African Feminism
Their request was however met with a fierce rebuttal. The police force informed the group that their planned protest cannot be allowed to go on as scheduled.
Nevertheless, the women are set to march the capital city of Kampala in their numbers alongside men come Saturday. In a tweet by @MichaelAboneka that was retweeted by the march’s official handle, the twitter user said; Police doesn’t not grant Permission! They are only notified to provide necessary support.
Also voicing her discontent about the police letter, human rights activist @RosebellK said; We might have changed the head of police but the entrenched denial of citizens rights is still here. Seen in this police letter regarding
#WomensMarchUg. The place of police isn’t to determine if the issue Ugandans want to peacefully march for is resolved.
The scheduled march has generated a ruckus on social media. Fueled by a feeling of fear, helplessness, determination and a need to propagate social change for women, more people are signing up to the movement. The hashtag
#WomensMarchUg has taken over Twitter.
There is a sense of objectivity among Ugandans and everyone at large that this march that openly rebels a police order can amount to something, that it is pivotal and it must happen at this time, that it should long have happened. Because even without the murders, there would still be a lot of things for this women to march for.
You can follow the live coverage of the March on June 30th 2018 on our Social Media Pages.