When Grace Arach was 12 she was kidnapped, raped, tortured, and forced to become the wife of one of Joseph Kony’s commanders. She escaped when she was 17. Since then she’s been working to help other child soldiers. Now she’s 25 and has been living in Australia for almost a year. Her family is still in Uganda.
I was in a vehicle with five others, including a Catholic priest, when we were ambushed by the Lord’s Resistance Army. They stopped the vehicle and got us out. There were five men and me. I was a little girl, 12 years old. It was 1996.
We went to a centre where the soldiers looted food and some drinks, then the priest asked the commander that was leading the group that arrested us, he asked: “What about the little girl?”. He said: “I want to take her back to her mother”.
The answer he got was: “Have you ever seen blood flowing?”, meaning if the priest insisted they would kill me.
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“Have you heard about Kony?” is a question that I was astounded to have addressed to me by a 14-year-old urbanite girl in a café in New York City.
“Joseph Kony?” I asked, incredulous.
“The man who forces children to kill each other and uses girls as sex slaves,” she clarified in a remarkably matter-of-fact way. I was astounded.
I do know Kony. At least, I know of Kony. There are very few people who can truly claim to know him. Even the child soldiers who grew to men in his army, or the captive young girls who came traumatically to womanhood bearing his children have been brainwashed by the self-created mythology of the man. When I spoke to those who knew him intimately most still believed that Kony possessed magical powers.>
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The recent resurfacing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, or the “Kill the Gays” Bill as it is notoriously referred to, has been a timely reminder of how homophobia remains a threat to human dignity. So how do sexuality, national politics and human rights align?
In numerous places around the world, homosexuality remains a site of intense political and social anxiety. Despite sexual orientation becoming a valid focus of international human rights law, over 80 countries around the world continue to criminalise homosexuality.
Uganda is now reconsidering legislation that would enhance the criminal penalties that already exist for people who engage consensual same-sex relationships. This may also include the death penalty for offences that are deemed to be of an “aggravated” nature.
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“I am a concerned Ugandan citizen because I…am worried that my children will be recruited to be homosexuals …I am worried that the future of Ugandan children is at stake.”
WARNING: THIS VIDEO IS EXTREMELY GRAPHIC. The Punch, not the author, chose it to illustrate the disgraceful stance of some Ugandans on this issue.
In October 2009, an Anti-Homosexuality Bill, or what has been internationally dubbed as the “Kill the gays” Bill, was introduced by David Bahati MP in Ugandan Parliament. The Bill strengthened the existing criminal penalties while increasing the sentences for certain kinds of consensual sexual “offences” between people of the same-sex.
Much of the social and political obsession with the idea of “homosexuality” in Uganda disparately emerged as a product of British colonialism. “Sodomy” offences or “acts against the order of nature”, as they are commonly referred to, were introduced through colonialism as a way of policing all non-heterosexual or non-reproductive relationships.
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