Uganda: No Woman Should Be Sexually Assaulted By Security Forces

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I am happy to see that the International
Community including the United States, a major supporter of the Ugandan government, has denounced the sexual attack against Ingrid Turinawe by
Uganda's security forces. In a statement the U.S. State Department
said: "As we have stated on numerous occasions, freedom of expression
and peaceful assembly are fundamental human rights and a critical
component of democracy."

Many of us in Uganda have always believed this; many have sacrificed
their lives for this right. Ugandans were shocked and deeply
embarrassed by the barbaric attack on Ingrid. The State Department also
stated: "We condemn any excessive use of violence by police....We
encourage Uganda to investigate allegations of excessive use of force by
security services and to hold perpetrators accountable. We also
continue to encourage Uganda to take tangible steps to improve its human
rights record, particularly with regard to the protection of civil
liberties and the human rights of women and of minority populations."

I am confident that we represented the feelings of millions of outraged women
around the world who may have seen the images of the attack on Ingrid
when we demonstrated in front of the police station last Monday. We wanted the police to know that we
respect our bodies even if they did not and that we will stand up and
protect our rights.

Uganda is involved in a democratic struggle, and I've chosen to
participate peacefully, but most often our non-violence has been met
with violence. We are encouraged by the messages of support that have
come from all over the world especially through social media outlets.

In addition to fully participating in all the peaceful
demonstrations that had been coordinated by A4C, I have been working
with university students to empower them with job creating skills. I
have experience running business from the time I spent abroad. For the
last several weeks, I have been sharing some of those skills with
students from Kyambogo and Makerere Universities and we have also
discussed various ideas about job creation. As you know youth
unemployment level in Uganda stands at an abysmal 83%.

At this time, I would like to be on record as having today expressed
concern about my own personal safety and security and that of some of
our university students.

In one of our meetings with students at
Makerere University, two unidentified men approached our table and took
our photographs without our permission. When we confronted one of them,
he said that our meeting was "illegal."

Some of the students are also
being intimidated by security operatives. They have reported receiving
threatening calls and text messages. One of the students from Kyambogo,
[John Mugabi] who had also received such messages, has not been seen in the last several days and after trying to contact him on his cell phone and checking his
home, we are seriously concerned about his whereabouts. We pray that he
has not come in harm's way.

We call upon the International Community to ensure that this
government respects the universal right of freedom of movement, freedom
of assembly, and freedom of expression. We also call upon countries such
as the USA and UK which helps sustain this government to hold it
accountable for any acts of violence against civilians during
demonstrations and to even suspend any foreign aid assistance that only
emboldens government impunity.

No person's right to protest should be limited in a free country
which is supposedly at peace. No woman should be targeted for standing
up for her beliefs. No woman should be sexually assaulted by security
forces whose salaries are paid by taxpayers' money for their protection
and safety.


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