By Juliet Kobusinge
The irresistible question has always been how are the young generation going to survive through living with HIV ,Gender based violence and body autonomy related issues.
Well we can agree that the journey to solving the question above has started. This was kicked off by the launch of “My body is not a democracy ” program on Friday 27th August 2020 at Skyz hotel in Naguru Kampala Uganda.
It was attended by various great speakers including Dorah Kiconco team leader UGANET, Dr. Dan Byamukama commissioner at Uganda AIDS commission, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa of Bugiri municipality,Dorah K. Musinguzi, the Executive Director of Uganetlaw , Richard lusimbo and several youth representatives.
With collaboration between powerful organizations who have vowed to fight for human rights like Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) which teamed up with Uganda Key Populations Consortium (UKPC), Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) and the AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) there is reason to believe that this program is going to be an adventure of success in solving issues of human rights violations especially when it comes to bodily autonomy and integrity.
The program puts in consideration all the problems that teenagers are battling with today and these range from lack of avoicetochildmarriages,earlypregnancies ,discrimination and stigma from being treated differently because of HIV in society.
A number of issues were pointed out by the speakers like the broken criminal justice. Every single day somewhere in Uganda a young girl is raped or defiled and since they have no say the culprit walks free.
In some neighbourhoods a girl can’t even speak because it’s obvious the culprit will be arrested and released on bail so there is a chance the person may come back to seek revenge. This program calls upon law enforcers to play their part so that a girl child is able to walk freely with pride and chase their dreams.
“Why should a person find it hard to and next to impossible to access sexual and reproductive services,” asked a Twitter user. The program that will run for 2 years will be able to operationalise youth friendly service to provide Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services. This will educate them on what they need and also provide the necessary information on how to get them.
Bodily autonomy and integrity is a human right so it shouldn’t be limited . It has been ignored for a while yet it is important especially when it comes to the protection of rights especially people living with HIV.
Therefore the program is here to stress the point so that the young people acknowledge that bodily autonomy and integrity is a right that should be respected by any other persons. Therefore this will lift and enhance the self esteem of so many teenagers whether living with HIV or not.
“We value community rights and inclusion we want to be a place where everyone has a voice” said Dorah Kiconco. This clearly indicates that the voices of people are going to be even louder than before about issues affecting them. Parents and Guardians will be brought on board about bodily autonomy and by this they will be able to give their own views and find a way forward to protect their children.
“It is not true that we parents do not know how to talk to our children. It is the environment that we are competing with for their attention that’s a problem,” said Brigadier General Felix Kulayigye while talking about the parents’ and guardians’ part in the campaign.
By speaking out it will make research easier and the government would get enough data about teenage problems.
In addition to that the program will strengthen research and data management by bringing face Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) facing these challenges and improve documentation of rape ,defilement,hostility towards HIV patients cases.
To support this program you can follow the social media platforms UGANET, UKPC_UG, ARASA and also follow the hashtags #RespectMyBodyUg and #MyBodyIsNotADemocracy.