Female legislators are victims of sexual abuse by some high-ranking government officials who promise them ministerial jobs, a female MP has said.
“Every time a newcabinet is named, I wish you are at Parliament to see and read the stress onsome female MPs’ faces who have been sexually harassed, but with their namesmissing on the cabinet list,” Hellen Asamo, an MP for persons withdisabilities, said.
“Sexual harassmenthappens in that political House (Parliament). Sexual harassment at workplacesis real. Some of our male counterparts look at us as mere women and want totake advantage of us,” Asamo said.
The lawmaker made the revelation at a prayer breakfast meeting for religious leaders, organised by the Church of Uganda and Side by Side, a faith-based movement for gender justice, at Fairway Hotel in Kampala. The meeting was part of the activities to mark 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV).
Side by Side is a growing global movement pursuing transformational change for gender justice. GBV is a term used to describe any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will on the basis of unequalrelations between women and men, as well as abuse of power.
Asamo said the unscrupulous men employ many tricks, such as inviting the female legislators for dinners at five-star hotels in Kampala with the intention of luring them into sex.
“We have been conned by the men. He will invite you for asumptuous dinner and tell you how your name will appear on the next Cabinetlist. Before the ‘good news’ sinks in, he tells you ‘but we must first sleeptogether’”, Asamo said.
She added that in some cases, the conman will take a female legislator out, make her drunk and carry her wherever he wants to exploit her sexually. Asamo urged church leaders to scale up counselling sessions for their congregants mainly the GBV victims.
The MP asked the Government to borrow a leaf from Rwanda, where sexually-abused victims are supported through the provision of legal services, counselled and accommodated, until their cases are heard in court.
In his sermon, Church of Uganda director of missions and outreach, the Rev. Can. Titus Baraka, testified how he survived defilement at the age of nine. “A woman attempted to rape me. She was naked. I had never seen a naked woman. She asked me to do what she wanted me to do. I did not know what she wanted me to do. It traumatised me,” Baraka reminisced. He asked clerics to speak against GBV crimes and the voiceless, many of whom he said suffer in silence.
The provincial secretary, the Rev. Can. Capt. William Ogenge, who represented the Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali, said most genderbased violence meted against women was rooted in some bad African culture.