Understanding Rape and Assault
is a wide term and its interpretation varies depending on several factors
ranging from religious beliefs, culture, interpretation of the law and personal convictions. It is
important to note that Rape is a component of Sexual Assault.
Sexual Assault is an illegal
sexual, physical, verbal, or visual act that usually involves force upon a
person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving
consent (as because of age or physical or mental incapacity) or who places the
assailant (such as a doctor) in a position of trust or authority[i]
Rape is a type of sexual assault involving sexual
intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out by a perpetrator against
a person without consent. The act may be carried out by physical force,
coercion, abuse of power or authority, or against a person who is incapable of
giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual
disability or is below the legal age of consent.
However, we can not talk about Rape without talking
about Defilement; while rape survivors are of age 18 and above, defilement
survivors are below 18 years of age and are considered by Law to be children.
In Uganda, defilement cases are
rampant and are common practice in schools, churches, homes; places which
should be a safe place for children. Hardly a month goes by without media
reports on defilement, or other forms of sex related crime against children. The
Ugandan law defines defilement as the act of having sexual intercourse with a
girl under 18, while rape is having sex with a woman without her consent,
usually by force.[ii]
Reports that show the
gravity of the Rape and Sexual Assault state in Uganda
to the presiding High Court Judge, Justice Gadenya Paul Wolimbwa, much attention is drawn towards Sexual Gender Based Violence cases such as
defilement, rape and domestic violence, because they constitute 62 percent of
the cases in the High Court of Uganda.[iii] He noted that sexual
and gender-based violence offences are the most common and prevalent offences
committed in Uganda.
Through 2005-2014, rape fluctuated
substantially; it tended to decrease ending at 2.9 cases per 100,000
Worryingly, the Police Crime report for
2015 indicates that at least 1,419 cases of rape were reported countrywide.
This rose to 1,572 in 2016, dropped to 1,335 in 2017, and rose to 1,580 cases
1 in 3 women are victims or survivors of
sexual violence, 1 in 6 men are survivors/victims of Rape and Assault.
The above statistics are appalling and
shocking, what aren’t we doing well? Has the law failed in some way or it’s the
community that is not doing enough?
What the Law says about Rape
123 of the Penal code Act defines of rape as the unlawful
carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent,
if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of
any kind or by fear of bodily harm, or by means of false representations as to
the nature of the act, or in the case of a married woman, by personating her
husband, commits the felony termed rape.
124 of the Penal Code Act of Uganda states that the punishment for a person
convicted of rape is death.
Section 125 of the Penal Code Act, any person who attempts to commit rape
commits a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life with or without
128 of the Penal code on Indecent assaults; Any person who
unlawfully and indecently assaults any woman or girl commits a felony and is
liable to imprisonment for fourteen years, with or without corporal punishment.
129 of the Penal code on defilement of girls under the age of eighteen; any person who
unlawfully has sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of eighteen years
commits an offence and is liable to suffer death.
the increasing Rape and Assault cases in Uganda?
Clearly it is not the absence of the
Law that has caused failure to eliminate rape and sexual assault in our society.
police, Ministry of Health, Parliament, religious sector, the media, Health and
Human rights organizations like CEHURD are the leading institutions in fighting
this vice. But it is still an uphill climb,
Some of the possible reasons include;
increased drug abuse among the young population
delay in the Justice system for rape victims to get justice
of rape, especially the corporate type, rarely report cases of rape to police
due to stigma
leading to criminal minds
constant display of explicit content leading to moral decay
Who is mostly at the risk of Rape and
Women and girls experience sexual violence
at high rates while men/boys experience it at a low rate. Attacks can happen
from anywhere, by anyone at any time. Places like refugee camps,
homes, schools, offices, isolated spaces are some of the breeding grounds for
What next after rape?
is true that there is a gap or little knowledge on what the victims of rape are
supposed to do immediately after the unfortunate incident. The public needs to
know that comprehensive sexual assault services are available at all levels of
the public health care system, from local health centers and clinics to
national referral hospitals.
first step is to report the assault/ incident at the nearest police station.
After the complaint has been lodged at the Police Station and a statement
recorded, the victim is subjected to a medical examination to ascertain the
authenticity of the rape, assault and gravity of the incident to inform the
nature of the case and evidence to support the case. Before a victim lodges a compliant at a Police
Station and undergoes a medical examination, they are advised to avoid
activities that could potentially damage evidence such as bathing, showering,
using the restroom, changing clothes, combing hair, and cleaning up the area.
Rape survivors are most often in a
compromised and highly vulnerable position when they seek for help. Attendants ought
to recognize the vulnerability of these clients and ensure that treatment does
not cause further trauma or secondary victimization. The treatment should be
sensitively given, with confidentiality and informed consent.
Rape / sexual assault
victims are advised undergo Medical Examination. DNA evidence from the crime scene should
be collected from the crime scene, but it can also be collected from the body
of the victim, clothes, and other personal belongings. In most cases, DNA
evidence needs to be collected within 72 hours from the occurrence of the
Effects of the Rape Trauma
Rape and Sexual Assault cases may come
and go, but they leave grave, life-long
effects on victims., Their psychological health and physical well-being are
usually adversely affected; some of these effects include; sexually transmitted
infections (diseases), depression, low self-esteem, mental illness, suicidal
thoughts, insecurity, poor performance, isolation, pregnancy, post traumatic
more relevant and updated policies will ensure safety for all. As seen in Section 123 of the Penal code
Act of 1954, only girls and women are considered to be victims, but time has
shown that men and boys are also at risk.
delayed is Justice denied, assailants should be brought to book as soon as
possible and uncalled for delays in the Justice system should be eliminated.
centers for Rape and Sexual Assault victims should be publicized more to
support survivors emotionally and mentally
should be involved at ground level because they are extremely important in
breaking the rape culture.
should step up mobilization, sensitization and education. Follow up referral
pathways, investigate every single case reported quickly and effectively.