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Ex-prisoner suffers from sodomy-related disease

By Vision Reporter

Added 27th September 2005 03:00 AM

JAMES (not real name) is a middle-aged man, but he walks with the help of a walking sick. His face contorts, eyes close and a groan escapes whenever he tries to sit or stand up.

JAMES (not real name) is a middle-aged man, but he walks with the help of a walking sick. His face contorts, eyes close and a groan escapes whenever he tries to sit or stand up.

By Moses Nampala

JAMES (not real name) is a middle-aged man, but he walks with the help of a walking sick. His face contorts, eyes close and a groan escapes whenever he tries to sit or stand up.

He was recently released from Kirinya Prison in Jinja after court dismissed a theft case against him.

But the relief could not erase his horrific ordeal of the six months he spent in prison.

“Prison! It is only the mighty, who can leave that place unscathed. You have to be physically strong to survive homosexuality,” he says.

James says he was sexually abused by fellow inmates at Kirinya. And worse still, he contracted diseases. Multiple swellings have mushroomed around his anal area.

Dr Dean Ahimbisibwe of Jinja Referral Hospital says they could be anal warts. They are blistered and emit a discharge.
“My anus has lost its elasticity. I have to use rags like a baby lest I soil my trousers. I have no money for treatment save for medicated liquid dettol and methylated spirit to dry my wounds.”
Ahimbisibwe says the anal sphincter muscles of the victim are defective as a result of repeated molestation. (faecal incontinence).

“The anal muscles function only when nature calls. Should they be forced to operate abnormally (medically referred to as trauma), they are bound to become defective, leading to a degenerate rectum dysfunction and proctitis (inflammation of the rectum or anus),” he says.

James was accused of stealing a mobile phone from his Asian employer. He says he was framed by a co-worker who was competing with him for the boss’ recognition.

Although the phone was later found, no one cared to withdraw the case.
The case was later thrown out after prosecution failed to produce witnesses to testify against James.

His nightmare at Kirinya started as soon as the warder slammed the prison door shut.

“Three inmates rudely accosted me and dragged me to a corner of the cell, wrestled me to the ground, ignoring my pleas for mercy,” James says.
They tore off his trousers and raped him in turns as the others held him in a kinky position.

He later learnt that his tormentors faced grave charges of aggravated robbery and murder.

“However, they commanded respect in the cells. They were LC chiefs of our cell because they had spent about four years in incarceration, pending committal to the High Court for trial,” he says.
After the first encounter, raping James became regular. But prison warders believed his tormentors’ word against anyone else’s, so defying them was risky. That was why he feared to report his plight to the authorities.

George Itaka, a former inmate at Kigo Prison in Mukono district, says homosexuality takes place at Kigo.
“You need to be a good fighter to fend off rapists in prison. I almost split the skull of someone before I could be feared,” he said.

The officer in charge Kirinya Remand Prison, Robson Odur, declined to comment referring The New Vision to the prison’s public relations officer.
But a senior officer at Uganda Human Rights Commission, office for Eastern Region in Jinja said complaints of sodomy in prison were common. He promised to assist James to get redress.

In the book, Protecting Prisoners, Rod Morgan & Malcolm .D. Evans highlighted some of the fundamental rights of a prisoners.

“When the person goes to prison as result of a judicial process that person is deprived of his freedom of movement, but retains his humanity,” they write.

That submission is also supported by Article 10 of the International Convention on Civic and Political rights states that “a prisoner shall be treated with respect for the inherent dignity of human person”
The prisons public relations officer, Mary Kaddu, said she could not rule out such an incident, but wished James had reported the matter while still at Kirinya Prison.

“We are trying to stem out homosexuality and all officers send regular reports about how they are handling it at their stations.”

Kaddu said prisons have a specific programme, which includes training staff and inmates about the risks and abnormality of homosexuality.

“I have been to Upper Luzira, Masaka and Mbarara talking to prisoners. Those who are reported are prosecuted. The other day, a guy was tried in Bushenyi and he got an additional three years sentence,” she says.

Of course, many deny it, she said. “But we are developing systems of finding out who the culprit is and protecting complainants when their leaders are involved.”

Kaddu advised James to approach her office in Kampala for redress.

Additional reporting by Hilary Bainemigisha

Ex-prisoner suffers from sodomy-related disease

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