Human Rights Watch calls for legislation to tackle rape, HIV in Uganda

// 2 June 2005

Meanwhile, in Uganda, Human Rights Watch are campaigning for the parliament to pass legislation which would outlaw marital rape and give girls and women greater equality.

The Domestic Relations Bill is seen as the first step in helping Uganda’s women, 40 per cent of which have been the victim of domestic violence. Human Rights Watch reports that many women are raped by their partners, putting them at risk of HIV.

In one horrific case, “Hadija Namaganda (a pseudonym) told Human Rights Watch that she tested positive for HIV in 1994. For years, her husband, who was HIV-positive, had routinely forced her to have unprotected sex with him and beat her viciously. He once attacked her so violently that he bit off half of her left ear. When he lay dying of AIDS and was too weak to beat her anymore, he ordered his younger brother to beat her for him.”

Unbelievably, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has delayed the bill because it was “not urgently needed”. The bill has already languished for a decade, as politicians argue over whether it is possible for rape to occur within marriage.

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