THE testimonies of girls who ended up as ADF wives seem like set in another time and another place. It is almost unimaginable that in Uganda in the 21st Century, girls as young as eight are being abducted from their homes, taken to a foreign country, forced to become sex slaves by some obscure rebel
In a world that has become a global village, where everything and everybody is connected, it is incomprehensible that girls can be hidden for up to eight years in a forest, cut off from their homes and the rest of the world, at the mercy of a bunch of fanatics whose only political agenda is to overthrow the Government and rule the country as an Islamic state.
After the Lordâ€™s Resistance Army, it is the Allied Democratic Forces exploiting women as unpaid domestic workers, sex slaves and canon fodder, taking away their basic dignity and their fundamental rights and freedoms as citizens, reducing them to helpless and caged human beings.
The world, rightly, condemned the international slave trade, which saw over 10 million Africans taken to another country between the fifteenth and the nineteenth century.
But slavery is still going on today. It is happening under our very eyes, in our villages and communities, affecting mainly the most vulnerable groups â€“ the women and children. It is happening in the form of forced sexual relations, child marriages, abduction and domestic slavery.
This extreme abuse of women has to stop. There should be no cultural excuses for the practice of abduction of girls by armed groups. It should be condemned in the strongest possible words and ranked as crimes against humanity. Those responsible for abducting young girls and turning them into sex slaves should be prosecuted and punished.
At the same time, the Government and women groups in Uganda should more vigorously take up the rights of women. Girl-child education should be high on the agenda. Gender violence units, staffed with female officers, should be set up in every district police station.
And women should be prioritised in the granting of loans to set up businesses. It would send a strong message to all those who consider and treat women as sub-human beings.
Women are not sub-human beings