By Jessy Grabce Ofwoni
The recent signed Anti-pornography Act has surely risen quite a number of reactions from the public, although I want to commend Rev, Simon Lokodo, the Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity for a work well done in seeing that pornography is banned in the country which will finally see that its harmful effects like incest, rape, masturbation, premarital sex to mention but a few are got rid of, I also want to bring a few issues and loopholes in the Bill to light.
Under section 2 of the Bill, pornography is defined as, “Any representation through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or stimulated explicit sexual activities or any other representation of the sexual parts of a person for primary sexual excitement.”
I have come to the conclusion that the minister has a personal vendetta with mini-skirts, but what has the mini-skirt done? Because there is no section in this legislation that talks about mini-skirts but because of the press conference which was held on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, where Rev, Lokodo, when asked about mini-skirts, gave a vague answer saying, “It is common sense; do not ask me how high or how low.”
Personally, I do not feel that what the minister said came out clearly and because of his vagueness, this has opened doors for some idlers and lumpens in city and suburbs to start publicly undressing women and in the long run will end up raping them. No women should leave their homes in fear.
This law has come at a time and in a society where there is a very low reading culture and as a result the biggest majority of Ugandans have misinterpreted it, hence the suppression of women. So I ask, is this a war against pornography or fashion? We should leave dress code to personal judgment and learn to distinguish between law and morality.
I want to say that the moral fabric of Ugandans has decayed, since we are at a time where there is a very high level of corruption, greed and materialism, we cannot blame fashion but rather pressure the Government to direct its strength at passing laws that will actually help us fight vices like corruption and leave the role of ethical and moral cleansing to the right people. If the minister feels that the dress code in the 21st Century is not appropriate, he should channel it the right direction, by taking an initiative of starting a comprehensive programme to talk to parents and institutions like churches and mosques that are the rightful bodies to instill morality in a society.
The former Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Miria Matembe, over a telephone interview said, “In Uganda there are very, very high levels of moral decadence and ethical value degeneration that has gone to the dogs not because of mini-skirts but moral decay.” She went on to say that because we come from different cultures we all have different cultural values for instance, the women in Ankole will keep their breasts covered because they are respected for the feeding role they give to babies and in the North women are not afraid to move bare chest because there is no regard to breasts as a sexual part.
Many have said that women’s dress code is provocative but why do you have dirty minds? This legislation is actually an insult to men; it compares us to animals that have no self-control! So I want to urge the general public to forget about the immaterial parts of this law but rather take more interest in the material and good spirit of fighting pornography in Uganda. I end by asking women to start a grass root movement of collecting signatures to see that this law is re-tabled in Parliament to be amended and suppression of women avoided.
The writer is a student of Mass Communications at Uganda Christian University