Women activists abandon work over police harassment

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UN Resident Coordinator, Rosa Malango introduces a network of Women Human Rights Defenders to Speaker Kadaga

Women rights activists under the “Uganda Women Human Rights Defenders” have decried the increasing harassment by law enforcement officers saying some of their members have been forced to abandon their work.

The activists are concerned that Police disbands their gatherings on noble causes.

The Network’s Executive Director Brenda Kugonza narrated a scenario where the Resident District Commissioner and Police officials in Hoima district stopped a gathering organized by women rights defenders to sensitize women in the Albertine region on how to demand for fair compensation.

Kugonza was speaking during a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, UN Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango, UN Women Country Representative, Dr. Maxime Houinato and UNHR and Mr. Robert Kotchani from UNHR. The meeting was held at Parliament Building on Thursday 14 November 2019.

Women activists said they have had to battle with local authorities in matters of land grabbing when they attempt to defend vulnerable groups such as children and women.

“One time I was defending a woman and her children who were chased from their home, the father of children told me he will cut off my head. My property was burnt when I tried to help the orphans get a lawyer,” said Amina Shahir Ahmed, an activist from Mbale.

Women rights defenders asked Kadaga to ensure that if the Public Order Management Act is reviewed the restrictive provision that limits freedom of association is repealed.

Kadaga was appreciative of the work being done by women rights defenders especially in the mining community of Karamoja, a field she says is often forgotten.

“I am happy you are helping women in the mining sector to understand their rights; mining is almost a closed area, it is secretive yet there is so much wealth in almost every part of the,” Kadaga said.

She pledged to connect Uganda Women Rights Defenders Network with Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) which is also doing activism work among women and other vulnerable groups.

Kadaga also commended UN Women which was present at the meeting, for spearheading the campaign dubbed ‘16 days of activism’ aimed at ending violence.

UN Women Country Representative, Houinato reiterated that the campaign will begin on 25 November to the end of December 2019 and will aim at ending violence against women and girls.

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