Examination of Sexual Violence in Uganda


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1.1 Background to the Study

Sexual violence occurs all over the world. A form of gender-based violence,[1] sexual violence has been defined as “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic a person’s sexuality, using coercion, threats of harm or physical force, by any person regardless of relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.”[2] It takes myriad forms – for example, sexual assault, rape, forced marriage, genital mutilation, sexual slavery or trafficking. It can happen in a bedroom, alleyway or war zone. And, though the vast majority of victims are women, men and boys can also be victims, and women can be perpetrators.[3] In this research, we review the many challenges of prosecuting crimes of sexual violence, describing those challenges at each stage of the “life-cycle” of a sexual violence case.[4] Although the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has greatly increased the international community’s ability to prosecute sexual violence, national courts remain the principal site for rendering individuals accountable. The experience of the ICC and other international tribunals provides key lessons in how these cases should be prosecuted, and we draw on them extensively in this paper. However, our ultimate goal is to highlight some promising practices for the effective prosecution of sexual violence crimes in national courts. National courts have long been the primary fora for the prosecution of sexual violence.[5] Until recently, the chief exception was the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (Tokyo Tribunal), created in 1946 by General Douglas MacArthur to try the leaders of Japan following World War II. Like the Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, the charter of the Tokyo Tribunal contained no specific reference to rape or sexual violence. Nevertheless, the Tribunal tried several Japanese leaders for mass sexual violence and other crimes committed by Japanese troops, including the sexual atrocities that are collectively known as the Rape of Nanking.[6] Once the Tokyo Tribunal completed its work in 1948, however, no prosecutions before international tribunals occurred again until the 1990s. During the intervening period, national courts once more became the primary fora for prosecuting sexual violence. In the early 1990s, the United Nations Security Council created two ad hoc international tribunals to prosecute international crimes[7] —including mass sexual violence—committed in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Yugoslavia Tribunal) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Rwanda Tribunal) became unprecedented sources of institutional and jurisprudential innovation in the prosecution of sexual violence.[8]According to the Uganda Police Force’s annual crime report, gender-based violence cases that were reported and investigated increased by 4% (from 38,651 to 40,258 cases) between 2015 and 2016.

The 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey revealed that up to 22% of women aged 15 to 49 in the country had experienced some form of sexual violence. The report also revealed that annually, 13% of women aged 15 to 49 report experiencing sexual violence. This translates to more than 1 million women exposed to sexual violence every year in Uganda.[9]

1.2 Objectives of Study

The main aim and objective of this study is to examining of sexual violence in Uganda, the specific objective are:

1. To investigate the challenges of prosecuting crimes of sexual violence in Uganda.

2. To examine the Gender Issues in Uganda with the analysis of Gender-Based Violence, Asset Ownership and Employment in Uganda

1.3 Focus of Study

This project is set to examination of sexual violence in Uganda at large. It focuses on the problems and prospects of our judicial system. An overview is also given on how analysis of the domestic legal framework on sexual violence in Uganda.

1.4 Scope of the Study

This project covers a range of subject peculiar to the sexual violence in Uganda. It covers the historical evolution of judicial system before the colonial intervention. It also covers the procedural problems in the administration of justice, Institutional problems in the administration of justice, Independence of the judiciary in all the courts in Nigeria generally. These are the aspects to be covered in this project.

1.5 Methodology

The research method employed for writing this project covers useful materials from both primary and secondary sources of law. The primary sources to be used are Acts of legislation, constitution of the Republic of Uganda, criminal procedure code, penal code, criminal code, and other primary sources are judicially decided cases and those cases from the Ombudsman as seen in some foreign countries. Secondary sources of law there are to be used include text books both from Nigerian legal system and administrative law, as well as published works on administration of justice. Other secondary sources are well researched from the internet, journals periodicals and newspapers all of which are expected to add value to the quality of the work.

1.6 Literature Review

1.7 Conclusion

On a conclusive note this chapter has given a good introduction to what this essay is all about, In Uganda of today, there are some legal issues which call for a serious examination in the interest of sexual violence and rape cases in the country. A general overview of definitions and various views of authors have been made to be part of this chapter.        

1.8 Definition of Terms

Rape:Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent.

Sexual Violence: Sexual violence is any sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by violence or coercion, acts to traffic a person or acts directed against a person’s sexuality, regardless of the relationship to the victim.

[1] Gender-based violence has been defined as “any harm that is perpetrated against a person’s will, and that results from power inequities that are based on gender roles.” Reproductive Health Response in Conflict (RHRC) Consortium, Gender-based Violence Tools Manual (New York: RHRC Consortium, 2003): 9.

[2] Inter-Agency Standing Committee. Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings: Focusing on Prevention of and Response to Sexual Violence in Emergencies (Geneva: Inter-Agency Standing Committee, 2005.)

[3] For studies finding male victimization and/or female perpetration of sexual violence, see, inter alia, Kirsten Johnson et al., “Association of Sexual Violence and Human Rights Violations With Physical and Mental Health in Territories of the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Journal of the American Medical Association 304, no. 5 (2010): 553-562; Jill Keesbury and Ian Askew, Comprehensive responses to gender based violence in low-resource settings: Lessons learned from implementation (Lusaka, Zambia: Population Council, 2010). For additional discussion of the issues and implications of male victimization, see Dustin A. Lewis, “Unrecognized Victims: Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Settings Under International Law,” Wisconsin International Law Journal 27, no. 1 (2009): 1-49; Sandesh Sivakurmaran, “Lost in Translation: UN Responses to Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys in Situations of Armed Conflict,” International Review of the Red Cross 92, no. 877 (2010): 259-277.

[4] In many parts of the world, victims of sexual violence pursue relief through local or traditional justice mechanisms that operate independently of the formal judicial system. For example, mediation and arbitration by a clan’s “council of elders” provide a type of informal dispute resolution for Kenyans who either do not have access to the formal justice system or who prefer to resolve disputes through traditional, community-based means. For more discussion of the role of informal justice mechanisms in redressing sexual violence claims, see Julie Freccero et al., Community Approaches to Sexual Violence (Berkeley: Human Rights Center, 2011), another paper in this series.

[5] This is because rape and other forms of sexual violence were recognized as crimes under national law long before they were so recognized in multilateral treaty-based international law. For example, see Clare McGlynn and Vanessa E. Munro (eds.), Rethinking Rape Law: International and Comparative Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2010), Pt. III; Elizabeth Barad and Elisa Slattery, Gender-Based Violence Laws in Sub-Saharan Africa. Report prepared for the Committee on African Affairs of the New York City Bar Association (2007).

[6] Yuma Totani, The Tokyo War Crimes Trials: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War II (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008).

[7] Throughout our paper, we differentiate between two categories of sexual violence crimes: “international sex crimes” and “domestic crimes of sexual violence.” The term international sex crimes refers specifically to forms of sexual violence that can amount to an international crime, that is, can be charged as genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. The term domestic crimes of sexual violence refers to all other forms of sexual violence, such as marital rape, sexual harassment and incest. We recognize that these terms are not without ambiguity. For example, as we emphasize below, international sex crimes can now be prosecuted in the domestic courts of many countries. Nonetheless, we have adopted these terms for the sake of consistency in this paper and because they are the terms used in the literature in this field.

[8] The scholarly literature on sexual violence prosecutions at these tribunals is vast. For example, see Catherine MacKinnon, Are Women Human?And Other International Dialogues (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006); Beth Van Schaack, “Obstacles on the Road to Gender Justice: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda As Object Lesson,” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law 17 (2009): 361-406.

[9] Uganda: Violence against women unabated despite laws and policies: retrieved from: https://www.un.org/africarenewal/news/uganda-violence-against-women-unabated-despite-laws-and-policies

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