The four weeks from mid-March to mid-April 2020 has for so many around the globe, no doubt felt like the longest, age-old month of our lifetime! In Africa, in particular, it really took us by storm. Until then, the African continent seemed the place where it’s still good to be. That was until South Africa at one end of the African continent topped the number of Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases (2,028), while Algeria, on the opposite end, suffered the highest number of fatalities (275) as of 12 April 2020.
Some reflections on the Ododo Wa exhibit and experience
The “Ododo Wa: Stories of Girls in War” exhibit was developed by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (@CMHR_News) in partnership with Conjugal Slavery in War (CSiW) led by Prof Annie Bunting and Véronique Bourget . It seeks to ignite conversations from the stories of both Evelyn Amony and Grace Acan. “Ododo Wa” was designed as a travelling exhibit with the goal of maximizing its mobility to reach as many people as possible. It was launched on December 6th 2019 at the Uganda National Museum and will go on to travel to Sierra Leone hosted by CSiW partners in Freetown.
“At first I even never told the doctor about what happened to me, because it is not easy to talk about it...” – Male survivor of conflict-related sexual violence based in Kampala.
Sexual violence against men and boys is not a new phenomenon in many parts of the world, especially in war zones and post-conflict communities but, surprisingly, the vice has continued to receive very little attention and recognition both at policy and program levels. Additionally, the many legal jurisdictions have narrow definitions of sexual violence offenses that recognise female counterparts, but not male victims.
Provision of psychosocial counselling in detention is vital in enabling inmates cope up positively with mental health problems. In my interaction with mothers living with their children in prisons in western Uganda, they shared the ordeal under which children are raised. From their expression, the challenges being faced indicate a huge gap in children’s general wellbeing in detention. Child protection emphasises “reducing risks to children’s holistic well-being, making children’s rights a reality, and creating an enabling environment that supports children’s positive
Forced migration continues to be a global challenge with over 70.8 million people forcibly displaced, of which 29.4 million are refugees and asylum seekers. They have fled their homeland seeking asylum due to wars/conflicts, persecution, calamities and other social unrests. This has not spared any continent, and Africa alone is struggling with over 5.6 million. Uganda is quoted by the UNHCR June 2019 Uganda comprehensive refugee response portal to be hosting 1,293,582 refugees and asylum seekers with majority from South Sudan (833,785) Democratic republic of Congo (353,379) and Burundi (41,322) among others. How they are hosted and where depends on the laws, policies and practices of the host
Every 30th August is commemorated as the International Day of the Disappeared. In the wake of conflict or other situation of human rights violations the fate of many remains a mystery; thousands of individuals and families are unaware of the fate of their loved ones; are they still alive or have they died as a result of war or conflicts?
Uganda is not without its fair share of enforced disappearances of people from Independence to date. Indeed, nearly every part of Uganda has suffered conflicts which have led to thousands of missing persons.
Historically, there has been limited inclusion of women in leadership and decision making due to the patriarchal nature of society at large. However, women such as Mother Teresa and Marie Curie emerged in humanitarian and scientific spaces. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S when women where considered as potential leaders in the political arena like Rosa Parks-let alone the British matriarchy era. Today, a number of women all over the world have held important positions in office like Indira Ghandi, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern, etc. By 2018, over 70 women had served as presidents or prime ministers all over the world.
What is it like now for Northern Uganda, a mass crime scene for over two decades during the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion? This is a region that was once considered a field of landmines, a “no-go zone”, a habitat for combatants where the bushes were all claimed by the rebels as their homes and lodges. No single civilian was allowed to hide, spend a night or take refuge there unless s/he was capable of paying for lodging there. Payment was by way of torture, rape, abduction, forceful conscription, or killing. The cry for protection, peace and healing were a daily rhetoric.
The women’s rights movement and activists have advocated for inclusion of women and girls in development projects for decades. Guided by the principle of “Nothing for us Without us”, women’s participation and empowerment continue to be a major agenda in development-related forums, particularly those related to promoting women’s rights and empowerment. The recently concluded commemoration of International Women’s Day reaffirmed the need to re-awaken women’s participation and empowerment, most importantly for rural and ‘grass roots’ women and girls.