Long before last week’s the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and Uganda’s 16 Days of Women’s Activism, respectively, Nile Breweries had hung an advertisement before the one it put out lately about Nile Special Stout brand. Like the one now, it was pasted on the overpass straddling the Kampala-Jinja Highway overlooking the Nakawa Market.
That advert had borne the same theme against gender-based violence. It read: “No Excuse for Sexual Harassment”, a constant reminder for the people travelling up and down this road, of the dastardly practice of the bullying violence against women. It shows a picture of three women in the throes of perceptive discomfort. One of them has tears streaming down her face.
It reminded about a conjugal murder of a wife in Serere District only last week whose husband had strangled her to death with a wire. Whatever her misdeed, it did could not have warranted this inhuman treatment from a vile husband.
This discomfiture was pertinently echoed by the activist non-governmental organization (NGO), Akina Mama wa Afrika, with reference to the unanswered cases involving 45 Ugandan women. Over the last two years these women were murdered; and so far no recourse has been arrived at in respect to these crimes.
There is a disrespectful perception that some of the women who suffer the violence attract and deserve it, described as “ideal victims”, as a result of their considered unbecoming behaviour, and sometimes, their get-up. That appellation is usually applied to women of low-standing and/or esteemed as prostitutes. They seem to make this an excuse for the Police to fail to settle the cases of this brigandage. Yet it does not add up to what, even the officials of the NGO, reflected upon.
Take the case of Elizabeth Magara, who was murdered, about two years ago, in the most heinous of circumstances. She was well-to-do; and had just returned with her father from a business trip to England, when she was abducted and briefly disappeared. She was involved in a thriving million-dollar dairy industry based in Fort Portal. After she was seized, a ransom note was posted for her release.
To make certain that these people meant violence upon her person, in the ransom note they sent, they included her two severed fingers. Eventually, they killed her, anyway! Police have been dithering ever since, without making any substantive arrest and conviction.
Akina wa Mama officials were also critical about the now-famous Ugandan case of the Entebbe 23 women who were killed and their bodies dumped in around the forested swamps at Entebbe. What was most crude and unique about all the mangled corpses, was that twigs and stuff, were found stuffed into their private parts. What an abomination!
This mark appeared to underscore a suspicion that these killings were an attribute of witchcraft; that it was a characteristic of an action of using their bodies for talismanic purposes. Such is usually an attempt to insure the perpetrators of surreal survival of clout or riches.
To digress, somewhat; a recent case of violence against women surfaced at this very time in South Africa, a country characteristic for this kind of infamy. In the northern part of the country, a woman was raped and then stabbed several times. The atrocity this time even brought a comment from President Cyril Ramaphosa, who decried the culture of violence against women, as something that has brought shame to the country.
It was a far cry from the recent collective adulation the country went through after winning the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo, Japan. Ramaphosa did not have to mention that every day in the country about 110 women are raped; this translates to a statistic of two out of every three women in the country, who undergo this kind of violence. To put it in crude words, if you are to marry a South
African woman, the chances are that she will have been raped before.
To countenance this kind of behaviour is unacceptable. It is also not acceptable that the Uganda Police are incapable of solving even one case of the 23 women who were murdered in Entebbe.
In fact there had been talk that CCTV cameras had been placed near the places where the women were abducted from. Surely, the Police would have been able to trace the suspects from such footage. That they have not done so, gives credence to the belief that the murders were done by people whom even the Police fear to approach and arrest.