Hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of Kampala on Saturday demanding police action to stop a spate of kidnappings and murders of women that have gripped the country.
The march started from Centenary Park to Railway grounds under the protection of the police.
At least 43 women have been murdered and others kidnapped for ransom in the East African nation since May 2017, according to police.
Rights activists have criticised what they say has been an inadequate police response focused on blaming the victims rather than solving the crimes.
Marchers wore T-shirts declaring “Women’s Lives Matter” and held posters listing the names of murdered women.
— #CanaryReports (@canarymugume) June 30, 2018
“We demand action and accountability for the rampant kidnapping, brutalising and murder of women in this country,” said Lydia Namubiru of the Women Protest Working Group, under Chapter Four Uganda, which organised the demonstration.
I have been to the murder crime scenes of atleast 13 women, I have seen the gruesome nature their lives have been ended. It’s inhuman to only offer hope and prayers. Action must be taken.
— Mujuni Raymond (@qataharraymond) June 29, 2018
US ambassador Deborah Malac and French envoy Stephanie Rivoal were among the marchers.
“My staff members are scared. They’re afraid to be out… because they don’t know if they’re going to be kidnapped or a victim of violence,” Malac told AFP.
Agatha Neema said she came to the protest “because I am a woman”.
“We live in fear yet our country is supposed to protect us. We demand security from the government,” said the 32-year-old information scientist.
Lawyer and rights activist Mr Karamagi Andrew said with all the security organs in Uganda, “we would expect much more than speculation.”
Richard Ssewakiryanga, the Executive Director Uganda NGO Forum, told Uganda Radio Network (URA) the march was significant because it brought to the fore, the issue of violence against women.
On Friday, sources reported that Police granted permission to the protest, urging the group to desist from criminal acts during the march.
We have, this evening, been handed a letter by @PoliceUg permitting @WomensProtestUG to hold a peaceful protest march tomorrow. Please note that this march is non partisan and non violent. Please circulate this information widely #WomensMarchUG pic.twitter.com/dUHCuhVGu7
— WOMEN’S PROTEST UG (@WomensProtestUG) June 29, 2018
Dr. Stella Nyanzi, head of the Women’s Protest Working Group, told journalists, one of four key interventions that women are pursuing in their campaign to bring justice for the families of the women who were murdered is to visit areas and families of the victims and talk to members of the community, meet members of parliament and media as they highlight the plights facing women in the country.
The women’s march today showed that a peaceful & lawful demonstration is possible if we work closely with the police & if the police acts in good faith believing that all citizens act bonafide. Thank you @AKasingye & your team pic.twitter.com/y4GSj3Fsgf
— Nicholas Opiyo (@nickopiyo) June 30, 2018