Diplomats join march against kidnaps, killings

US ambassador Deborah Malac and her French counterpart Stephanie Rivoal were among the hundreds of women activists that marched in Kampala on Saturday in protest of women kidnaps and killings.

The march organised by the Women Protest Group started from Centenary Park and ended at the Uganda Railway grounds.

The activists chanted slogans against the kidnaps, rape and killings of women in Uganda.
Some held placards with inscriptions like; ”stop raping us, we are women, don’t rape us, we want security now and Women lives matter.”

The puzzle of women killings became more pronounced mid last year when yet to be known gangs abducted, raped and killed women in Nansana and Entebbe.

Frank Gashumba during the match

The killings took a new twist early this year with the kidnap of Susan Magara on February 7 near her home in Lubaga division.

Her kidnappers demanded for a $1m (Shs 3.8bn) before she was eventually murdered.
Several other women have since been kidnapped and killed in a similar manner.

Addressing the protesters, Malac said that she attended the march to send a message of responsibility, raise awareness and fight for gender equality.

”Sometimes when women are killed they do not send the same attention as when men are killed. I am here to make a statement that women lives matter in the same way as men’s lives, as children’s lives; to stand out for women and say that we are equal to men, we deserve the same rights and protection,” Malac said.

The activists demanded that the Police sets up a dedicated team to investigate the murders and kidnappings which should regularly report to families of victims and the general public of the progress of investigations.

They also demanded that the police desist from blaming victims for their murders.
They also asked the Police set up a fully fledged directorate to prioritize, prevent and deliver justice on gender based violence.

Dr Stella Nyanzi one of the organizers of the march said, while government and police are key in ensuring the security of all Ugandans, the people too have to be security conscious.

”Personally I think that the state does not have whatever it takes to actualize security for all women. I think that we need lay persons to get involved, we need women who are suffering on board; we need a collection of players,” Nyanzi said.

Nyanzi said, the Women Protest Group plans to hold a public media engagement, as well as female MPs in addition to interacting with families of victims and communities.

Activists carrying posters showing different women who have been murdered.

The activists also plan talk to transporters and also school children.
The engagements according to Nyanzi had been planned to precede the march but were frustrated by state actors.

The group first approached police informing them of their plans to protest in order to raise awareness about the security situation in Uganda that has left a number of of women killed.

It however could not meet the IGP Okoth Ochola and days that followed, the Police announced that the protest could not be allowed since the country’s security chiefs had addressed the nation on the security concerns.

This forced the Women Protest Group to approach the Minister for Internal Affairs Gen Jeje Odong who issued directives to the police to allow the demonstration.