In response to Ronald Kibuule once again making harmful and hateful statements towards women and their personal freedoms, Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) held a press conference today at their headquarters in Ntinda.
Tacked to the walls of the tent were brightly colored placards, some denouncing his statements, others listing the heartbreaking rape and defilement statistics in Uganda, others calling for his resignation.
One was imploring Kibuule to imagine his female relatives in a rape situation. This one I didn’t agree with.
A lot of times when we are trying to draw the empathy of men towards women who have been molested or raped, we tell them to imagine how they would feel if their mothers, sisters, wives, etc. were the victim. This is wrong.
This encourages them to attach humanity to only these five or so women in their lives and makes them likely to be oblivious to the suffering of those who are not connected to them in this way. It reinforces the idea that women are not full humans until they are framed in the light of those related to them.
Look, empathize with the afflicted because you are a human being and they are also human beings.
Below are some of the questions that were raised by various journalists and activists, as well as statements that I found powerful:
Easily, this man can come out and cry that he was misquoted, and wiggle out of this situation. How are you going to avoid that?
We have records of him saying that clothes cause rape. This isn’t even the first time that Honorable Kibuule has been caught with his dirty morals in his mouth. But can we even call him honorable anymore? (To which the crowd yells NO!) Early this year, he said similar things and caused uproar.
In fact, the Daily Monitor journalist who reported the story called him back to confirm that he had made those statements and he confirmed. He even made more damning statements.
He can make a halfhearted apology and remain in our parliament. What will you do to stop that?
He cannot be allowed to serve another term in parliament. We reject him. Young people, please do not shelve your ambitions for his seat in parliament. Get angry! The seat can be yours. We’re going to take this to the grassroots and make sure that wherever Kibuule goes, he will find empty space. He will not get into parliament.
Already the stigma towards rape victims is terrible. Many men I have conversed with about this openly admit that they would not continue to pursue a relationship with a girl if they found out that she had been the victim of a rape. They whine, “I don’t want those problems” as if she was wearing a sign on her head that read: rape me. And this irresponsible bigot is busy making it harder for women to report and deal with the emotional effects of rape, by turning the blame on them.
What do you have to say to men and women who are saying this conversation is distracting us from bigger issues, such as corruption, etc.?
Before you call this issue trivial, take a look at the statistics. After that, ask yourself why Kibuule didn’t opine about one of these other so called more pressing issues, and why he choose to hit women.
When people trivialize rape culture, they are promoting it. When they say this is a small issue, they are promoting it.
Rape culture is one in which sexual violence against women is trivialized, justified thus creating impunity for rape. We are born into a culture that has internalized it deeply and so we grow up internalizing some of its toxic views. When we try and shut this conversation down or keep quiet about such words coming from a leader, we are giving rape culture space to grow.
Rape isn’t just a small thing. It is a capital offence that can land an offender the death sentence. It is extreme, gross and can even cost you your marriage. We must talk about it.
As a mother and a woman, I am disappointed and disgusted. HOW do you call that a leader? His constituency made a wrong choice.
1. A public apology.
2. Museveni must come out to denounce Kibuule’s words.
Does this man know that he can cause gender-based genocide by uttering such statements? By encouraging people to rape at will as long as they decide the woman is indecent?
Are we being honest when we create campaigns to alert people to the scourge that is HIV/AIDS and then turn around and promote rape culture by leaving people like Kibuule in power? We are not. He is Uganda’s ambassador for rape culture, along with Fr. Lokodo and any other person who tries to bring clothing into the conversation about rape.
Rape isn’t, has never been, will never be a crime of lust or passion. It is dominance, perversion and violence at work. A rapist is a rapist is a rapist.
Rape is physical and mental torture. Let’s not keep people who seek to normalize it in our parliament.
If a minister is capable of uttering such he may be covering up his own rape crimes.
And just in case our government is actually using Kibuule’s utterances as a distraction from the increment our teachers are asking for, shame on them. Shame on them one two three four five! Shame on you, Government of Uganda!
The fight for women’s personal freedoms, safety, dignity integrity is real and not to be used as a distraction. We are not playing games. Our desire to be free, happy and equal isn’t cute. It isn’t to be abused and/ or trivialized. We shall not stop discussing this.
WHY do we only discuss these things when jokers like Kibuule open their mouths?
It is embarrassing. As evidenced by the comments to NTV’s poll question last night, where a father said that his daughter’s dressing is pathetic and deserving of rape, we live in a society that is always unsafe for women. Where women are not protected from violence of any nature, by anybody around them.
This is a conversation we need to be having every single day.
We need to be talking about getting stronger, so that we can defend ourselves.
We need to stop being afraid of being labeled aggressive.
Learn how to fight for your rights as a human being. This is your world. You deserve to walk free and unmolested!
This press conference was a good opportunity to network and a hard reminder that we haven’t made any real headway in our fight for a free, fair and safe society for all. The fight goes on.