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Sex-for-career: Rot in Uganda’s Arts Industry (Who is sexually abusing artistes in Uganda)

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Sex-for-career: Rot in Uganda’s Arts Industry (Who is sexually abusing artistes in Uganda)

Courtesy photo: ( Disclaimer) The people in the above caption are neither victims nor perpetrators of sex abuse.

Mercy (not her real name), a dancer, was once invited to perform in a community outreach function, organised by a renowned Arts proprietor. She was to be paid UGX 150,000 per-day. She danced for three days.
She was paid for one of the three days; the rest of her payment was delayed; and she was asked to meet the project manager, the man in charge of the project. On several occasions she was unable to meet him in the appointed places, until she met him, for tea, in one of those places.
He promised her that she would be given an opportunity to work on a similar project in Kasenyi, in Entebbe, if she would sleep with him. She refused; and he did not pay her balance of the money.
Mercy lost her payment and she was never considered for the additional performances. The project went on in other areas.
Mercy’s initial efforts to speak out where frustrated by her peers in the dance industry. They took her a liar and a pretender saying that it was all a useless talk reprimanding her for not accepting the boss’ offer in exchange for opportunities.
Unlike Mercy, one of her friends fell victim to the sexual abuse after pursuing a chance to be a main character in play. Mercy notes that her desperate friend was tricked into the act because the director had promised her to be a main character in a well-funded play at Sharing Hall, Nsambya.
“She spoke to us after missing out; she felt betrayed. She told us that she was trapped and it had happened in form of special rehearsals. And in a way of being consoled she was deceived that she would play a lead role in the play and she would be paid highly at the end of the project! She was betrayed she was used,” Mercy narrates.
A few years ago I met Rahma, one of Uganda’s anonymous musicals, who has spurned “to do the needful” to ascend to stardom. We were at an introduction ceremony and a friend asked her why she was not starring in the musical given her beauty and talent.
“Begging for a microphone; no allowing everyone to touch me in the name of performance! Sexually bullied and offended by promoters! No, that is my worry,” Rahma noted.
Many artistes speak out behind the curtains, but many have always expressed displeasure over sexual harassment in exchange for fame, record deals or chances to perform at top gigs
Frustrated by the abuse that she have seen and experienced in the industry, Mercy dreams that one day she would visibly open up to the public to pin the abusers and also encourage other victims to tell stories of sexual misconduct.
Mercy has spoken to many girls in Arts sector, who have been sexually harassed and assaulted, but just like her they are scared to share their stories, for fear they would never work in the industry again, or rather taken to be liars. “There are many stories of sexual harassment but sadly girls can’t speak out. Girls are seriously assaulted and some lured into sex inside music studios and rehearsal rooms,” a sympathiser says.
At this crucial moment in the global conversation about gender-based violence, it is time to speak up.. In the United States, for example, more women are breaking their silence on the taboo subjects like; rape and sexual assault, calling out their perpetrators, and reporting crimes to the authorities. Millions of people, including celebrities, are using the #MeToo hashtag on social media to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment, demonstrating just how widespread the problem is.

Sex slaves in the name of Career
Artiste William Mpaata Otako says that many young artistes are sexually accosted by “big artistes, promoters, producers, journalists and various players in the music industry”. He notes that sexual assault and abuse is rife in the industry, with instances of rape going unreported through victim’s fear of speaking out. “You’d be hard pressed to find a woman working in the industry today who’s never been a victim of sexual harassment or abuse,” Otako says.

Artiste Otako William Mpaata Otako

He reveals that victims can hardly speak out given the fact that it is seemingly becoming a normal evil for girls to be sexually abused in the Arts industry.
Godfrey Musinguzi, a film maker and the Director Uganda Cinema Night, blames it on the legendary players in the Arts industry especially in Music and the Performing Arts. “You find that

 

Source: Uganda Police Force
Date of last Update: 2018-03-17
Units: Numbers
Frequency of Update: Annual

many of Uganda’s legendary artistes joined Art through sex. Where few and a lot of people joined Art thinking that they would be celebrities, like their counterparts, are joking. And that’s why many where used sexually and eventually some succumbed to HIV and AIDS,” Musinguzi adds.
He says that sex abuse has suffocated talents in a manner that a project that would require talents would be mishandled when the decision-makers would offer to neglect talents and opt for characters who accept to be sexually used in exchange for roles.

Mercy recounts a day when she was approached by a dance choreographer who asked her for sex in in exchange for performance at a co-operate function at Serena Hotel in Kampala. She adds that most girls are fooled into the act in exchange for nice roles.
Havens of sexual abuse

Mercy narrates that currently sex abuse is in almost all corners of performances, especially the Arts groups; it is proving to be a normal evil that is generally given no attention by the stakeholders.

 

CEO uganda cinema Night. GODFREY MUSINGUZI

“Sexual abuse today looks normal and it’s everywhere. I have a friend who once told me that she has nothing to lose. She told me that so long as she is paid and given a career, it’s okay! Now, is it okay since the gateway to better things? Mercy asked.
Otako suggest that sexual abuse is everywhere in Uganda though high in the Arts sector. He believes that the proprietors are those who pretend to be helping unleash talents and some big players in the Arts industry. He reckons that Musical and Arts troupes, Recording Studios and up-country cinema shooting locations are the biggest havens of sexual abuse.
“Girls are sexually abused, right? But can they speak out? Just imagine a group of young girls in a troupe, housed and fed by the troupe owner, who also caters for their school fees and pays them? And he sexually abuses some of them, can they speak out?” Otako wonders.

Law and Facts on ground
With no official national statistics available on non-Partner Sexual Violence in Uganda, the Global Database on Violence against Women indicates that physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence is at 50 %. A report by The African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), indicate that in Uganda since 2011, a total of 1,363 cases of rape have been investigated by ANPPCAN.
The Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations, 2012 indicates that use the of language of a sexual nature, whether written or spoken, such as unwelcome verbal advances, sexual oriented comments, request for sexual favours, jokes of a sexual nature, offensive flirtation or obscene expressions of sexual interest that are addressed directly to a person, are criminal.

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