Category Archives: Uganda

Uganda’s male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in double jeopardy shows IRIN Report

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Uganda’s male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in double jeopardy shows IRIN Report (30april 2014)

The needs of male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence living as refugees in Uganda, of whom there are several hundred, are poorly met, with recent legislation against homosexuality making matters worse, according to a new report.

According to one humanitarian official working in the field who preferred anonymity, “many survivors have medical needs due to the assault and have undergone a series of surgeries. However, due to limited medical services available in Uganda, the assault still affects their physical and emotional health. Some of the medical conditions expressed include back pain, leg pain, STI and STD [sexually transmitted infections and diseases] and bleeding.” “Much more progress is required in interventions addressing the challenges faced by male survivors of sexual violence” especially in the fields of health, stigmatization and security, according to the report, issued earlier this month by Makerere University’s Refugee Law Project (RLP) to mark the second anniversary of Men of Hope, one of several self-help groups it supports. One barrier to such progress is that sexual violence against men is not widely recognized.

“Just ignore it,” Uganda’s Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Musa Ecweru told IRIN.”The problem of refugees in Uganda is not male rape or homosexuality. It’s a minor issue. It’s being promoted and made prominent by the whites and NGOs who want funding,” he said. “Our basic concern for the refugees is food, shelter, water, health and their safety. Male rape, homosexuality, is not an African issue,” he said.

According to the RLP report such dismissive attitudes are also common among health workers. “This is not only peculiar to private medical facilities but also government hospitals. Medical personnel who don’t believe that male rape exists, and who frequently allege that those who report such cases are either crazy or homosexuals, have further victimized some survivors,” it said. Men of Hope’s president, Alain Kabenga, illustrated this point. “When we go to health facilities to seek treatment, the health workers just laugh and look at us as crazy persons and homosexuals,” he told IRIN. “Public hospitals say they don’t have the budget for male rape victims.” According to the RLP report: “This affects access to health services by survivors who fail to see appropriate personnel or are given painkillers just to blot the pain, leaving the condition worse after a period of time.”

Health Minister Elioda Tumwesigye dismissed any suggestion of second-class treatment. “I haven’t read the report. But it’s not true that we discriminate [against] patients who come to our health facilities,” he told IRIN. “We don’t ask patients who they are and how they got the sickness. Our duty is to protect and prolong life,” he said.

RLP is currently supporting 370 male survivors of sexual violence in support groups in Kampala, as well as western and northern Uganda. Some 320 of these are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN Refugee Agency and Interaid, a Ugandan humanitarian group which campaigns for the rights of disadvantaged people, have an additional 67 male survivors in the gender-based violence (GBV) information database.

According to an RLP working paper, sexual violence against both men and women is a “crime of power” intended to degrade. But in conflict situations, men can be deliberately targeted “in part, to attack males as leaders and protectors [to] diminish their masculinity”. “Stigma and discrimination is one of the major challenges male survivors continue to grapple with. Much as xenophobia is a common to all refugees and asylum seekers, the situation is worse for male survivors because male rape is a taboo in many cultures,” the report said.  The community members can’t distinguish between male rape and homosexuality. The confusion is due to lack of knowledge on male rape. People don’t believe male rape exists,” said Kabenga. “The law has made us afraid. Many of us can’t go to health facilities to access health care due to fear and shame to be labelled homosexuals,” he said. “Since the enactment of Anti-Homosexuality Act, RLP’s community outreaches on sexual violence against men and boys have been flooded with questions on homosexuality, signalling a knowledge gap on the subject matter,”David Onen Ongwech, acting programme manager of RLP’s Gender and Sexuality Programme, told IRIN. as deleted. We have no impediments to people who seek health care. This ignorance is manifested in the legal gaps in addressing the concept of rape in Uganda’s domestic legislations.” “It’s this culture of silence that bars male survivors from seeking legal, psychosocial redress, including access to confidential and professional medical services,” he added. The Uganda Penal Code (UPC) does not recognize male rape as a crime, defining rape simply as “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”. Nathan Mwesigye Byamukama, programme officer at the 11-member-state International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), of which Uganda is a member, told IRIN that his organization does not have measures to support male rape survivors. “The ICGLR is guided by its Protocol on prevention and suppression of sexual violence against women and children in the Great Lakes Region of 2006. As you can see, the protocol is specific and particular to women and children. Of course, children include boys and girls but the protocol is silent on men,” Byamukama, told IRIN. Many male rape survivors fear returning to their countries to face the perpetrators of the sexual violence as well as the possibility of being ostracized. “Male survivors of sexual violence believe that resettlement is the only option for them,” said the report. But, integration into Uganda is not possible under current legislation, it noted. “Male survivors of sexual violence demands for holistic and non-discriminative approaches and service provision, that service providers understand the plight of male survivors of sexual violence and accord not only listening ears but also practical supports geared towards prevention and response to reported cases, just like it’s available for women and girls,” Onen told IRIN. “We need support from the government, doctors, lawyers, police and the community. We appeal to the government to incorporate the plight of male survivors in their planning, programming and budgeting,” he said.

Notorious Ugandan gay activist driven into asylum

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John Abadallah Wambere, a prominent Ugandan gay activist aka Long Jones, who was featured in the documentaries Call Me Kuchu and “Missionaries of Hate,” filed for asylum today in the United States.

John -AKA Long Jones - WambereWambere has been an activist for 14 years, as a co-founder of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives, through which he has worked to ensure the safety of the LGBTI community, reduce stigma, assist LGBTI Ugandans under arrest, and educate about HIV. He has continuously advocated for tolerance and equality, his exile became inevitebaly.

On his journey around the globe to seek support for the Ugandan LGBT community,  he came to Belgium september 2013 and march 2014 to meet with different NGO’s and politicians.  Uganda’s LGBTI community has been under escalating public, political, and physical attack in recent years, culminating in the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act and its signing into law on February 24, 2014 by President Yoweri Museveni. Long Jones, is one of the people that inspired hundreds of people to protest against this evolution. He has been a role model for many.

“This has been a very, very difficult decision for me,” Wambere said. “I have devoted my life to working for LGBTI people in Uganda, and it gives me great pain not to be with my community, allies, and friends while they are under increasing attack. But in my heart, I know it is my only option, and that I would be of no use to my community in jail.”

John was outed as gay by newspapers, harassed by strangers, received death threats from anonymous phone calls, evicted from his home, and beaten up.  Now,  under the new law,  he also faces life imprisonment should he return.

WISH2.be who welcomed other activists in exile under its members is convinced that John made an adult and mature decision in very difficult circumstances. We urge people not to judge the person for the simple reason that he searched protection when under extreme threat, and we hope that he can still be an inspiring father for the community in Uganda. Knowing Long Jones we know this is not the end of a journey, neither an opportunistic choice, this is a broken life saved.

Read the article by Colin Stewart here:

Prominent Ugandan gay activist seeks U.S. asylum

Read more about his file for asylum here.

 

 

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Belgian Parliament: unanimous on Uganda

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In an earlier post we reported about the resolution voted unanimous in the Belgian Federal Parliament on the 22nd of march 2014.

Here is the text of the conclusions in English, (French and Dutch in the download version).

We will get back to you on how we want to use the text after the may 25 federal elections, and for that purpose your comments are very welcome.

Please leave a reply and refer to the requests number when relevant.

WE REQUEST THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:
1. to emphasize the importance of respecting sexual orientation and gender identities in any political dialogue with the Ugandan authorities;

2. to make clear reference, when negotiating a new Program of Cooperation (PC) between Belgium and Uganda, to the universality, indivisibility and inalienability of human rights and to link the evaluation of the appropriateness of the PC with willingness of the Ugandan authorities to make extreme efforts to create a basis for tolerance regarding sexual and gender diversity;

3. to include in the PC a clause requiring the Ugandan government to take clear measures to implement a policy of non-discrimination regarding the LGBT community, without harming the LGBT community and its supporters;

4.  to consult constantly with the local partners working in the human rights field and with the LGBT community when implementing the PC where it is focused on the non-discrimination against LGBT people and on the empowerment of the LGBT community, in order to ensure that the policy and initiatives benefit a broad social base;

5. to ensure that reports on the evaluation of partner countries of the Belgian Development Cooperation include a specific chapter devoted to the respect of the rights of LGBT people;

6 . to invest sufficient resources, in the framework of the PC with Uganda, in awareness campaigns for the general public regarding fundamental human rights and, in particular, LGBT rights and the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV ) in the LGBT community;

7 . to perform, within the framework of the Belgian policy on health and sexual rights, a situational analysis of the target group of LGBT people in Uganda, and to base that policy on the conclusions of the analysis;

8. to encourage all money lenders, with a view to the long term, to perform judicial analysis for appropriate penal legislation and anti-discrimination legislation that Uganda really needs, in order  to create a basis for the decriminalization ;

9. to invest in the development of an accessible health care sector in Uganda and especially to ensure that LGBT people are not discriminated against in this field;

10. to urge the Ugandan government, both bilaterally and through the European bodies, to reverse its decision of the 20 May 2012 to prohibit the aforementioned NGOs.

Dowload the FR-NL-EN version here.

Find the full text of the resolution in FR-NL here.

 

(With thanks to Jan Paenhuysen and Steven Tate for responding the call for translation.)

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