VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS ON THE RISE IN UGANDA

KAMPALA: The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) expresses its concerns over the growing rate of violence against women and girls in Uganda, as within the last three months, more than five school girls have been sexually violated and murdered. Records of the Central Police  indicate that since the beginning of 2015 , more than 190 girls have been defiled (rape of those below 18 years of age), 37 women were raped, and at least 96 people are believed to have been murdered in Kampala and the districts of Mukono and Wakiso.

The number and intensity of crimes is alarming as the following examples demonstrate: In mid-May, the first case of a series of sexually motivated murders occurred, when MUBS student Beatrice Mudondo, was brutally assaulted and her remains were dropped alongside Kataza railway route. Just two weeks later, police alongside Yusuf Lule Road recovered the body of 14-year old Rehema Nassali, a student of Buganda Road Primary School, who was raped and killed by unknown assailants. In mid-June in Ishaka, Bushenyi District, Zaharah Babirye, a student at Bassajjabalaba Secondary School in Bushenyi was reportedly raped and strangled to death as she was walking home from school. A case of drastic brutality occurred in mid-July in Lugazi, Buikwe District, the beheaded and raped body of Desire Mirembes was found in a sugarcane plantation. The latest attack occurred at the end of, July 2015, in Mbiko, Buikwe District as residents discovered the body of a woman in her mid-twenties in a nearby maize plantation, to date she has not been identified. Reports indicate that she was brutally assaulted and possibly subjected to rape and sustained severe head injuries, which ultimately led to her death. According to official police statements, a number of suspects have been arrested, while the whereabouts of other suspects remain unknown.

The Penal Code Act of Uganda defines rape as “any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind or by fear of bodily harm, or by means of false representations as to the nature of the act, or in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, commits the felony termed rape.” The crimes shall be punished with death according to Article 124 in the Uganda Penal Code. It further lists indecent assaults carrying charges of imprisonment up to fourteen years. Article 129 regulates the defilement of girls under the age of 18 stating that “any person who unlawfully has sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of eighteen years commits an offence and is liable to life imprisonment.” Aggravated defilement is defined as committing a felony where the person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of fourteen years; where the offender(s) is HIV positive, a guardian or parent, or the victim is disabled, the offender(s) of such instances shall, suffer the death penalty under the Penal Code Amendment Act 2007 .

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