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Why women activists ignored Joanita Kyakuwa

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th January 2006 03:00 AM

I refer to Nesta Katushabe’s article titled “Why have the activists ignored Kyakuwa?” in New Vision of January 24. She says that feminists like the organisers of Vagina Monologues have not come to show solidarity with Joanita Kyakuwa who was allegedly raped several times by presidential candid

I refer to Nesta Katushabe’s article titled “Why have the activists ignored Kyakuwa?” in New Vision of January 24. She says that feminists like the organisers of Vagina Monologues have not come to show solidarity with Joanita Kyakuwa who was allegedly raped several times by presidential candid

I refer to Nesta Katushabe’s article titled “Why have the activists ignored Kyakuwa?” in New Vision of January 24. She says that feminists like the organisers of Vagina Monologues have not come to show solidarity with Joanita Kyakuwa who was allegedly raped several times by presidential candidate Kizza Besigye.
Rape is a heinous crime and a gross violation of one’s dignity. As one of the organisers of the Vagina Monologues in Uganda, I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. Indeed this is one of the key issues the play sought to expose; the way in which societal attitudes and the inaction of the state have worsened the situation.
Women have contributed so much to the development of this country, to the struggles for independence and so on. But when it comes to issues of their own rights, how have they been treated over the years? Relegated to the periphery as unimportant. However, women are expected to turn out and pay homage to the ‘leaders’ come election time.
As the government continues to pursue the charge of rape against presidential candidate Kizza Besigye, many of us recall that it is the same government which put the death knell on so much of the proposed legislation to protect the rights of women, including rape victims. Let us also not forget that this same government is quite happy to drop the charges of rape, should the accused apply for amnesty under the Amnesty Act. So if Kizza Besigye complies with government conditions, what happens to Joanita Kyakuwa?
On HIV prevention, the government has allowed itself to be hijacked by fundamentalist right wing religious interests which endanger the lives of millions of women by adopting abstinence campaigns as the only effective prevention strategy even when it is clear that many women are not autonomous.
Given that government officials are always haranguing religious leaders to keep out of politics (unless they are of course Pastor Kayanja and his prophesies) one wonders, how reactionary religion has entered government business in this way.
As you continue to ask where the feminists are, remember this: We struggle for women’s rights as part of the overall struggle for democratic pluralism. Many of us are now wise to see false prophets of whatever political shade, and will not endorse political chicanery of this kind. Rape is too important a crime to be mocked in this way.
Ends

Why women activists ignored Joanita Kyakuwa

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