The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Miniskirts - Men Told to Pluck Out Their Eyes

Human rights activists in Uganda say they are planning a legal challenge to the recently-enacted Anti-Pornography Act.

In their planned Constitutional court petition, activists want government to review and amend the act, which has sparked a series of attacks on women and girls perceived to be in provocative clothing.

Former Ethics and Integrity Minister Miria Matembe, who is now a civil society activist, said recently that the public should pressure Parliament into withdrawing the law.

"How can 33% of the women who constitute parliament pass a bill whose definition of pornography is so vague?" Matembe said during a public demonstration organised by Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (Cedovip) and Miniskirt Coalition at National Theatre in Kampala on February 26.

"Time has come to move a vote of no confidence in Parliament and demand that this law is withdrawn. If it fails, we get a lawyer and take the law to court and challenge it."

Med Kaggwa, the chairperson of Uganda Human Rights Commission, said the government should urgently reconsider the law to ensure that any ambiguities are corrected.

He said while the act defined pornography as the representation through publication or engaging in real or stimulated explicit sexual activities for sexual excitement, the media and some leaders have interpreted the act to be a law on miniskirts and short dresses.

"Commonsense shows that once he [Minister Simon Lokodo] starts to explain this law over and over again every day, there is a problem. The leader of government business [PM Amama Mbabazi] said the law had a problem and for us we take it that there is a problem with the law," Kaggwa said.

Since President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill into law, women have been physically assaulted on the streets of Kampala.

"This is hastening the violence against women. Why are women discriminated and targeted? Those men are committing a crime but they are not being arrested. Why are religious leaders banning women from church and not rapists or corrupt officials?" said Tina Musuya, the executive director of Cedovip.

Lawyer and rights activist Jackie Asiimwe Mwesige told The Observer that the problem was male, not female:

"We claim that we are seeking to bring back morals. If your eye is wondering and causing you to sin, the Bible says that pluck it out. Don't go after the thing that is causing you to sin," Asiimwe said.

The police have since warned they would arrest any 'miniskirt law' vigilantes.

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