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If it can be said, as it can, that by the year 2020, the number of deaths from AIDS in Africa will approximate the number of deaths, military and civilian combined, in both world wars of the 20th century, then it should also be said that a pronounced majority of those deaths will be women and girls. The toll on women and girls is beyond human imagining; it presents Africa and the world with a practical and moral challenge which places gender at the centre of the human condition. The practice of ignoring a gender analysis has turned out to be lethal. . . . For the African continent, it means economic and social survival. For the women and girls of Africa, it's a matter of life or death.

—Stephen Lewis, the U.N. Secretary-General's Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa, United Nations, July 3, 2002.

By the late 1980s, years of political upheaval, horrific state-sponsored violence, and economic breakdown had crippled Uganda. Just as the East African nation began its road to recovery, the epidemic of AIDS erupted in the already weakened country. By the beginning of 1990, Uganda had become an African epicenter of the pandemic, with over 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS.1 The government’s initial response was courageous and constructive: officials combated widespread stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS through a state-led, coordinated campaign incorporating all levels of society, including the government, the media, civil society, religious groups, and health providers. HIV prevalence2 has been falling since the mid-1990s, and Uganda has gained regional and international recognition as a success story in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Nevertheless, the threats posed by HIV/AIDS in Uganda are far from over. A 2000 report compiled by United Nations agencies working in Uganda claimed that “the HIV epidemic is still far from conquered: one in ten adults in Uganda are infected with HIV and there are worrying signs that the sharp decline in HIV prevalence during the 1990s may not be sustainable.”3 In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Joyce Namulondo of the Uganda AIDS Commission, the central coordinating body for the government response to HIV/AIDS, confirmed that the decline in prevalence may be on the wane: “Complacency set in, in Uganda. We saw a declining trend [in prevalence] to six [percent] in urban areas. That’s why we don’t have billboards.4 It is now climbing in some areas, for example Mbarara. I can’t say why.”5 Despite a profusion of HIV/AIDS programs and coordinated efforts striving to inform women about HIV/AIDS, and to offer them affordable and accessible means of protection, few initiatives have identified and sought to remedy domestic violence6 as an enabling factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS among women.

While the horrifying implications of HIV/AIDS for the African continent are clear, the enormity of the impending disaster for women continues to unfold.7 Almost ten years ago in 1994, the Fifth African Regional Conference on Women adopted the African Platform for Action which declared: “The subordinate position of women and adolescent girls . . . and their lack of access to information, education and communication, health facilities, training, independent income, property and legal rights make them particularly vulnerable to the AIDS infection. . . . Consequently, it is necessary to place emphasis on decreasing women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.”8 In a November 2002 interview, U.N. Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis called attention to the gravity of the situation by stating, “[But] it’s only in the last year we’ve begun to focus in on the fact we were annihilating a gender, that we were depopulating a continent, in parts, of its women.”9 The HIV/AIDS pandemic disproportionately affects African women and their peak infection rates occur at earlier ages than men. Of sub-Saharan Africa’s 29.4 million HIV-positive people, an estimated 58 percent are women and girls.10 In 2002, sub-Saharan Africa was one of only two regions where women and girls formed the majority of infected individuals.11 UNAIDS estimates that in countries with generalized epidemics, approximately 80 percent of women between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four lack “sufficient knowledge” about HIV/AIDS.12

As in most countries, domestic violence in Uganda cuts across all socio-economic, political, and ethnic boundaries, and is the result of historically persistent unequal power relations and restraints on women’s equality and sexual autonomy, which have been inadequately addressed by the government. This background section provides a snapshot of the government response to HIV/AIDS and outlines the relevant political and legal framework within which domestic violence against Ugandan women occurs.

Uganda: Historical, Political, and Economic Context

Prior to the advent of colonialism, a network of indigenous legal and social systems formed what is now Uganda.13 With the declaration of Uganda as a British protectorate in 1894 came the abolition of those local systems that did not serve the British interests.14 Uganda’s independence in 1962, and the brief prosperity that followed, preceded a turbulent political period characterized by state brutality and massive human rights violations. Uganda’s current president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, assumed power on January 26, 1986, after a five-year guerilla war. His administration restored security in most parts of the country and introduced a measure of economic stability and democratic participation, in stark contrast to the years of political violence and economic deprivation under Idi Amin15 and Milton Obote.16 However, his adoption of a “no-party” system in which he established the National Resistance Movement (NRM or the Movement) has been criticized as duplicating a single-party system,17 although Museveni decided to allow the existence of political parties in February of this year.18 Large numbers of civilian casualties and high levels of sexual violence have marked wars in southern Sudan and northern Uganda between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony.19 The conflict, which began in August 1986, has resulted in the displacement of over half the population of Kitgum and Gulu districts and has all but destroyed whatever little economic and social infrastructure existed in those areas.

Since the early 1990s, Museveni’s government has pursued a policy of the decentralization of power to the local level. The process, which aims to improve administrative performance and enhance government accountability and transparency, encompasses the legislature, the executive, and judicial institutions. As a result, district administrations have assumed responsibility for the delivery of services that include health and social welfare, and for parts of the judicial system.20 Although decentralization has had positive effects, the inefficiency and corruption that marked central government have in many instances devolved to the local level, and a lack of trained manpower and resources have hampered the effective functioning of local government.21

Since the late 1980s, the Ugandan government has adopted macroeconomic policies that have resulted in sustained, broad-based economic growth.22Despite this, Uganda remains one of the world’s poorest countries, ranked 150 out of 173 countries on UNDP’s Human Development Index for 2002.23 In 2000, the U.N. estimated that 35 percent of the Ugandan population was living in poverty.24 By the late 1990s, the Ugandan government calculated that agriculture contributed 51 percent of the Ugandan Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 90 percent of export earnings, and employed 80 percent of the labor force.25 Over 80 percent of the Ugandan population is located outside urban settings,26 where the overwhelming majority of the poor depend upon land for survival.27The disparity in resources between the central region and the rest of the country is stark, particularly in terms of food consumption and health care. In 1998, the U.N. estimated that the proportion of people in rural areas without access to health care facilities was 31 percent compared to 4 percent in the urban areas. Rural illiteracy rates were at 33 percent compared to the urban rate of 13 percent.28 Insecurity in the north and the west due to rebel insurgency resulted in food shortages and economic stagnation in those areas.29 Inadequate remuneration for civil servants, corruption, and a paucity of professional and technical skills have undermined public service delivery. Although the decentralization of government has improved rural service delivery, it is costly, and actions to alleviate poverty have not been significant.30

There has been considerable donor investment in poverty alleviation and improving economic performance particularly in education, agriculture, water, energy, transport, and integrated development projects.31 Donor funding shifted from subsidizing specific projects to general budget support, while donor assistance to civil society groups has focused largely on political development, civic education, and improvements to the justice sector. 32

The Legal System, Education, and Health

The legal system of Uganda is based on English common law. The applicable laws include statutory law, case law, common law, doctrines of equity, and customary law.33 Statutory law takes precedence, and customary law is only applicable in the absence of relevant statutory or case law.34 In 1988, the government began the process of developing a new constitution based on public consultation.35 The 1995 constitution, which incorporates definitive language on women’s rights, now forms the supreme law of Uganda.36 The judiciary has a five-tier court system known as the Courts of Judicature, ranging from subordinate magistrates’ courts to the Supreme Court.37

With a predominantly rural population, many Ugandans seek justice at the local level.State sponsored local tribunals or local council courts (LC courts) apply customary norms and provide local fora for dispute resolution.38 Five local government levels exist in Uganda, running from the village level to the district or city level. Local council courts are established from the village level (LC1), to the parish level (LC2), and on to the sub-county level (LC3). 39 The courts have jurisdiction over limited civil matters and petty criminal offences.They also deal with cases governed by customary law including property, intestate40 inheritance, and marital disputes. There are close to 4,000 LC Courts countrywide.41 At all stages the constitution and the 1997 Local Government Act require that one third of the councilor positions be set aside for women.42 This is in addition to any women who gain seats by open competition.

Previously lauded as quick and cheap avenues of justice, the LC courts are attracting criticism as corrupt and chauvinistic institutions. The courts frequently exceed their authority by hearing serious criminal cases, including murder and rape. Although LC court decisions may be appealed to magistrates’ courts, and—with the leave of the chief magistrate—to the High Court, few defendants are aware of their right of appeal.43 Women’s access to justice is poor, even in the less formal channels, and women’s representation in the justice sector, although improved, remains low. In 2002, women constituted 10 percent of the police force, 25 percent of judges, and 25 percent of the legislature.44

The 1996 implementation of Universal Primary Education—a program that allowed for free education for four children in each family, including two girls—has had positive results, with an increase in enrollment from 2.6 million children in 1997 to 6.5 million in 2000.45 However, parents must still meet the costs of materials, meals, and uniforms. Despite the government’s efforts, gender disparities in education remain marked. Due to reservations about the economic viability of girls’ education, sexual harassment in schools, and early pregnancies, the drop-out rates for girls remains high, with a gross enrollment rate46 for secondary education of only 9 percent.47 In 2000, a 57 percent female adult (15 and above) literacy rate was recorded compared to a 78 percent rate for males in the same age group. 48 In the same year, the U.N. found that among children entering primary school,49 a boy was twice as likely as a girl to complete Senior 4,50 and three times more likely than a girl to continue on to upper secondary.51 In 1999, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development reported: “In most cases girls end up being victims because they are made to embark on domestic chores and assistance in the home as a preparatory process for their future. . . . Enrollment rates for girls at all levels have remained low compared to that of boys, because of a preference to educate the boy child.”52 For a variety of reasons, the majority of the women who spoke to Human Rights Watch dropped out of school at the primary level. Many women told us that they left school when they became pregnant or because they were moving in with the father of their babies.

Uganda’s health care system, one of the best in Africa in the mid-1960s, was almost destroyed by war and economic decline. The restoration of health services and greater collaboration with NGOs, community-based organizations (CBOs), and the private sector has improved health service delivery.53 The government has finalized a Ten Year Health Policy, developed a Five Year Health Sector Strategic Plan, and formulated a National Minimum Health Package to provide cost-effective treatment for prevalent health conditions such as malaria.54 In 2001, the government reported 1,156 government health units around the country (hospitals, health centers, dispensaries, and maternity units.)55 However, inadequate medical supplies and untrained or absent personnel feature in many of the units.56 In 2000, the U.N. found that access to health services had declined since the early 1970s and that untrained staff ran over 69 percent of outlying health units.57 According to the U.N., rural health facilities were generally too distant for easy access and only half the population lived within five kilometers of a health unit.58In Uganda, traditional healers are an accessible, low-cost, culturally familiar alternative to the more conventional medical practitioner and there is one traditional health practitioner for every 200 to 400 people, as compared to approximately one medical practitioner per 20,000 people.59

HIV/AIDS in Uganda

After escaping the bullets and the guns, AIDS was here. After hope, the monster.

—Honourable Miria Matembe, minister of ethics and integrity, Kampala, January 13, 2003.

HIV/AIDS was first identified in Uganda in 1982 on the shores of Lake Victoria in Rakai, southern Uganda.60 The war and its aftermath of poverty, malnourishment, and dilapidated health services provided a conducive environment for the spread of the disease. By 2001, an estimated cumulative total of 2.2 million people had been infected with HIV and about 800,000 Ugandans had died since the onset.61 UNAIDS has estimated that out of a population of 21 million, 1 million Ugandans are living with HIV/AIDS.62 At a meeting of the Commonwealth Regional Health Community for East, Central and Southern Africa held in November 2002, President Museveni declared that HIV/AIDS costs the country about U.S.$702 million annually.63 In 1999, the Ugandan government reported that data indicated that females have a higher HIV infection rate than men.64 Human Rights Watch obtained information from the AIDS Information Centre—one of the main voluntary counseling and testing service providers—indicating that HIV prevalence in women between the ages of twenty to twenty-four was approximately 15 percent in 2001 compared to 5 percent for men of the same age65 and that more adult females are infected in the twenty-five to forty-four age group.66 Government AIDS authorities estimate that by far the most common means of HIV transmission is unprotected sex with an infected person.67

Many have commended the Ugandan government for its early and decisive response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.68 President Yoweri Museveni has publicly emphasized the need for strong leadership in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and there has been constant and candid national media coverage of the epidemic. A government minister described the reaction to the onset of the epidemic: “At first we looked at AIDS as a health process [problem]. Then we learned it was multisectoral. This led to [the establishment of] the Uganda AIDS Commission. It was not easy because culturally we don’t talk about sexual matters openly. The church didn’t want to talk about condoms. Eventually, we managed to break through. [Especially] once we explained the multiplicity of methods of acquiring AIDS, the stigma reduced.”69 Pastor Wilberforce Owori works with the Frontline AIDS Support Network, a nondenominational organization that trains pastors to provide care, support, and counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS. He underscored the evolution in the church’s outlook on HIV transmission: “At first the church was negative about people living with HIV/AIDS because HIV was mainly through sexual transmission. We educate them to understand that the majority of women get HIV on the marriage bed.”70 Although the government has prioritized HIV/AIDS awareness, distinct variances remain between rural and urban areas. A 2000-2001 government health survey found, “There are urban/rural differences in the levels of knowledge with urban respondents having higher levels of knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention than their rural counterparts.”71

The first AIDS Control Programme was established in the Ministry of Health in 1986 and focused on the provision of safe blood and the prevention of HIV infection in health care settings. In 1992, the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) was established to coordinate the government response to HIV/AIDS.72 The same year saw the beginnings of a decline in prevalence, and national prevalence rates in the adult population declined from 18.5 percent in 1995 to 8.3 percent at the end of 1999.73 The Drug Access Initiative was established in 1998 to advocate for reduced prices for antiretroviral drugs. The creation of the Uganda AIDS Control Project under a Multi-country AIDS Project of World Bank followed in 2001.74 The National Strategic Framework for HIV/AIDS Activities (2000/1-2005/6) prioritizes the reduction of HIV prevalence by 25 percent by the year 2005/6, with a focus on vulnerable communities including children, youth, women, and displaced communities.75 The government is pursuing a policy of decentralization with the objective of strengthening local governments and empowering communities to assess and monitor local responses to HIV/AIDS and has developed a Community HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) to support unregistered rural groups.76 As of 2001, there were reportedly at least 700 agencies— governmental and nongovernmental—working on HIV/AIDS issues across all districts in Uganda.77 Numerous development partners including a wide range of U.N. bodies have also supported Uganda’s efforts against HIV/AIDS.78

On February 27, 2003, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria signed a grant worth more than U.S.$35 million over two years to support Uganda’s ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS. The program is intended to compensate for gaps in financing the National Strategic Framework, and to expand the response against HIV/AIDS in prevention, mitigation, and treatment activities.79 Uganda is also included among fourteen countries slated to receive five years of AIDS program support from the United States.80 However, there are concerns that an amendment to the bill authorizing the measure mandating that a third of prevention funds be used for abstinence-until-marriage programs will undermine the benefits of condom promotion and ultimately reduce the potential impact of the program.81 There are also fears that the U.S. Congress may not provide the full amount of the authorized funding.82

Ugandan civil society organizations have been particularly valuable resources for people living with HIV/AIDS. Organizations such as The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) and the AIDS Information Centre (AIC) have achieved international recognition for having set new standards in HIV/AIDS counseling.83 Local hospitals advance standards of care and a proliferation of community-based groups provides material and psychological support to people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Domestic Violence in Uganda

Despite the chronic and widespread nature of the global phenomenon of domestic violence, there has been an astounding failure to prosecute this crime even in countries with greater institutional capacity.84 In Uganda, there are no specific laws that provide Ugandan women with any meaningful protection from domestic violence. Since the early 1990s, local NGOs have unsuccessfully lobbied the government to pass domestic violence legislation and legislation addressing domestic relations. According to women’s rights activists, in many Ugandan communities, wife battery that does not result in serious injury is tolerated and is considered a normal part of marriage.85 As a result of the underreporting of domestic violence and the paucity of official statistics, domestic violence rates are difficult to measure with absolute accuracy. However, it is generally agreed that domestic violence rates are high in Uganda. According to U.N. statistics, in 2000, 41 percent of Ugandan women had suffered domestic violence.86 A study that examined domestic violence among women attending the prenatal clinic in Mulago Hospital, the largest hospital in Uganda providing free medical services, found that 40.7 percent of women reported physical assaults in the year before conceiving.87 Police Superintendent Helen Alyek of the Child and Family Protection Unit at Nsambya Police Station told Human Rights Watch that complaints of domestic violence rose from 495 in 2001 to 1009 in 2002.88 Alyek attributed the rise primarily to training on women’s rights, but also to increased levels of violence as a result of poverty.89

As recently as August 2002, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) 90 expressed concern at the high incidence of violence against women in Uganda, including domestic violence and marital rape, and the absence of legal measures to address such violence.91 In the absence of a domestic violence law, the police and courts rely on assorted, non-specific provisions in the Penal Code that cover assault and homicide.92 A prior judicial order of separation is necessary in order to charge a man with the rape of his wife and the law otherwise relies on the common law presumption of consent within marriage.93 Existing criminal laws do not provide adequate legal remedies and punishments are often very lenient, with the accused being warned or fined.94 In our interviews we found that battered women rarely report domestic violence cases due to their lack of confidence in the legal system, and, in the cases in which they do report, law enforcement officials rarely intervene to protect women. A wife who reports her husband to the police for beating her faces social stigmatization for exposing family matters to the public.95 Most notably, in March 2002, then Vice-President Specioza Kazibwe96 stated that she had been a victim of domestic violence. This deeply personal revelation, which should have helped in the destigmatization of the issue, was instead met by extremely negative press and anti-women rhetoric on the radio.97

Individual women and NGO representatives depicted government institutions that directly handle cases of violence against women as ineffective and non-responsive to women’s needs. The Coalition Against Gender Violence, composed of five professional women’s NGOs and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, reported: “Numerous challenges remain regarding reporting, follow up, arrest, trial and punishment of perpetrators [of gender violence]. These include the fact that officials in these different structures and often the victims themselves are inculcated in and have internalized the culture of gender inequality such that they are not cognizant of what constitutes gender violence.”98 In an effort to enhance the police response, the government has established family protection units at police posts at the national level, gender desks at the district level, and has carried out gender sensitization of law enforcement agencies.99 However, NGOs report that while police are trained extensively on children’s rights, training on women’s rights is largely absent.

To date, the most significant pieces of pending legislation with regard to domestic relations are the Domestic Relations Bill (Draft) (Domestic Relations Bill), which seeks to consolidate the six different statutes that relate to marriage and divorce in Uganda, and the Sexual Offences (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill (Sexual Offences Bill). There has been serious government opposition to their enactment because they address issues such as marital rape, women’s ownership of marital property, and polygyny,100 and therefore have far-reaching cultural and religious ramifications. The CEDAW committee has expressed concern at the slow progress in eradicating both de jure and de facto discrimination101 and has strongly recommended the speedy enactment of the Domestic Relations Bill and the Sexual Offences Bill. With the exception of criminalizing marital rape, however, neither the Domestic Relations Bill nor the Sexual Offences Bill addresses other facets of domestic violence.102

Women’s Status in Uganda

The Ugandan government has been widely credited with emphasizing the empowerment of women and girls in recent policy-making. Minister of Ethics and Integrity Miria Matembe asserted, “He [President Museveni] sees women as human beings with potential. That commitment and interest at that high political level was translated into structure, laws, and systems. . . . We have affirmative action entrenched into the systems and the constitution of Uganda.”103 The government adopted a National Gender Policy in 1997 and formulated a National Action Plan on Women. The 1995 constitution provides for affirmative action through the provision of reserved seats for women in Parliament and in local government,104 women are now in Local Council positions, and women hold influential posts including vice-president, deputy chief justice, deputy speaker of parliament and deputy inspector-general of police.105 The government established a Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in 1988 and a Directorate of Gender and Community Development to integrate gender within the development process.106 Women’s Councils have been established under the National Women’s Council Act 1993.107

Despite this progress, many customary and statutory laws discriminate against women in areas of marriage, divorce, and inheritance.108 Polygny is legal under both customary and Islamic law, and although customary practices vary within the different ethnic groups, most use the bride price system. Previously said to constitute a bonding between families and a mark of appreciation to the women’s family, the bride price has now become akin to the purchase of wives and a justification for the subjugation of women. Sylvia Tamale, Ugandan lawyer and academic, commented: “The customary payment of bridewealth now gives the husband proprietary rights over his wife, allowing him to treat her more or less like a chattel. This is especially so because it equates a woman’s status in marriage with the amount of bridewealth exchanged and not with her skills and abilities.”109 In addition, the practice of widow inheritance whereby men inherit the wives of their deceased brothers is widespread.110 Customary law and Shari’a also curtail women’s parental rights by upholding that any child who is not breast-feeding belongs to his or her father and his family.111

Inadequate and discriminatory labor and land laws contribute to women’s economic subordination. Women are more often employed in the informal sector and are restricted to low paying, labor intensive occupations such as domestic work. As a result, their labor rights are not legally regulated, leaving them with little protection. Women also face severe impediments on rights to own or inherit property. As in many developing countries, land in Uganda is the most important factor of production and Ugandan women play a central role in agricultural output.112 Women provide more than 70 percent of labor in agricultural production and over 80 percent in food crop production and processing. Yet only 7 percent of Ugandan women own land.113 In 2000, a U.N. report found: “Although women carry out 70-80% of all agricultural work (digging, planting, weeding, harvesting, storage and processing), they have little control over the land itself or the sale of cash crops. Traditionally, land belongs to men only, and men also control the sale of cash crops and large sales of food crops, although in some areas these traditions have changed in recent years.”114 In 1999, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development observed,

In the economic field, men control the cash-based crops while the women remain in the non-monetized subsistence sector (growing the food crop). It follows, therefore, that within the existing division of labor in Uganda, the differences between men and women in access to money, creates gender inequities. . . . This asymmetry in the division of labor and control of its fruits has far reaching repercussions for women. In future, any law reform, development strategy or formulation has to take measures to address this culturally based gender inequity in the division of work.115

A 1998 Land Act,116 intended to decentralize land administration, strengthen security of tenure, and address historical gender imbalances in land ownership, failed to provide for spousal co-ownership of land117 despite extensive lobbying. In June 2003, the Ugandan parliament passed the Land Act (Amendment) Bill, which provides for a spouse’s “security of occupancy” on family land. Although the bill would provide women with greater security of tenure, it still fails to provide women with equal rights of ownership.118 Furthermore, a leading daily recently reported President Museveni as saying that he would not assent to the bill without further debate.119

These inequities in marital status and property ownership maintain women’s economic dependency, a factor that increases their vulnerability to abuse in their homes, and can become lethal where HIV/AIDS is involved. In its Poverty Eradication Action Plan the Ministry of Finance noted: “In some parts of the country, single women cannot get access to land; finding a partner then becomes a matter of survival and people in these circumstances take risks which they would otherwise avoid.”120 The continued failure of the government to address such inequities will undermine efforts to provide women with constitutional protections, greater political representation, and improved access to education.

1 Common Country Assessment of the United Nations agencies working in Uganda, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges (Kampala: Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda, 2000), p. 6.

2 Prevalence refers to the number of infected people in a given population. Incidence refers to the rate at which people become infected.

3 Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 6. Helen Epstein, who formerly taught molecular biology at Makerere University in Kampala, wrote: “Epidemiologists conducting smaller studies of particular Ugandan populations have shown that even when prevalence is falling, incidence may still be high, or even rising. In fact, while some regions of Uganda have seen a fall in HIV incidence during the 1990s, others have seen little change.” See Helen Epstein, “AIDS: The Lesson of Uganda,” New York Review of Books, July 5, 2001, p. 18.

4 The initial public awareness campaign featured roadside billboards carrying HIV/AIDS prevention messages erected across the country.

5 Human Rights Watch interview with Joyce Namulondo, planning office, Uganda AIDS Commission, Kampala, January 16, 2003, Kampala, January 16, 2003.

6 “Domestic violence can be defined as the use of force or threats of force by a husband or boyfriend for the purpose of coercing and intimidating a woman into submission.” United Nations Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs, Strategies for Confronting Domestic Violence: A Resource Manual, U.N. Doc. ST/CSDHA/20 (1993), p. 7. The term “domestic violence” is used in this report to refer to violence against women by their (male) intimate partners. It therefore includes women who are cohabiting and women in relationships where formal customary marriage requirements have not been completed. The terms “husband” and “wife” refer to partners living in a marital state.

7 For an overview of HIV/AIDS and women and girls, see Human Rights Watch, Suffering in Silence: The Links Between Human Rights Abuses and HIV Transmission to Girls in Zambia (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2002), chapter IV.

8 Fifth Regional Conference on Women, “African Platform for Action,” Dakar, Sénégal, November 16 to 23, 1994, para. 19.

9 “AFRICA: Interview with Stephen Lewis, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa,” IRIN Plus News, November 29, 2002, [online], (retrieved April 7, 2003).

10 Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) press release, “60 million Africans Have Been Touched By AIDS, Says UNAIDS Executive Director: AIDS has become Africa’s biggest challenge,” Maputo, July 10, 2003, [online], (retrieved July 22, 2003).

11 According to UNAIDS, in 2002, 58 percent of HIV-positive adults in sub-Saharan Africa and 55 percent of HIV-positive adults in North Africa and the Middle East were women. See UNAIDS and World Health Organization (WHO), AIDS Epidemic Update, December 2002 (Geneva: UNAIDS/WHO, 2002), UNAIDS/02.46E, [online], (retrieved April 11, 2003).

12 UNAIDS/WHO, AIDS Epidemic Update.

13 As of February 1, 1962, Uganda had 56 indigenous communities. See Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995. The people of Uganda are divided into four main linguistic groups: the Bantu, the Luo, the Nilo-Hamites, and the Sudanic, each of which consists of several smaller ethnic and linguistic groups. Religion is an important factor in community life and national affairs. According to official statistics, two-thirds of the population are Christians, about 16 percent are Muslims, and the rest are animists. See Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 10.

14 Manisuli Ssenyonjo, “The Domestic Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Under the 1995 Ugandan Constitution,” Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, vol. 20, no. 4, December 2002, 445, p. 447.

15 1971 to 1979.

16 1964 to 1971 and 1980 to 1985.

17 For an overview of human rights developments in Uganda in 2002, see Human Rights Watch, World Report 2003 (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2003), p. 87.

18 “Uganda: Museveni approves multipartyism,”, February 19, 2003, [online], (retrieved April 11, 2003).

19 Human Rights Watch interview with Ruth Ojiambo-Ochieng, director, Isis Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange, Kampala, December 12, 2002. For comprehensive coverage of the conflict, see Human Rights Watch’s Uganda web page, For a report on the abduction and recruitment of children by the LRA see Human Rights Watch, Stolen Children: Abduction And Recruitment In Northern Uganda (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2003).

20 The Ugandan government confirmed that there are currently fifty-six districts in Uganda, although not all are functioning, and only forty-eight are “fully-fledged” districts. Human Rights Watch interview with Patrick Mutaburi, commissioner, Local Councils Development, Ministry of Local Government, Kampala, January 17, 2003, and Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Tayebwa Katureebe, second secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Uganda, Washington D.C., May 28, 2003.

21 Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 12.

22 Ibid, p.15.

23UNDP Human Development Report 2002, n.d. (New York: UNDP, 2002),p. 1, [online], (retrieved April 11, 2003).The Ugandan government’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) forms the central policy framework for partnership between the government, the U.N., donor organizations, and civil society for addressing poverty and development. The PEAP also forms the foundation for Uganda’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. The government initiated the Uganda Participatory Poverty Assessment Project (UPPAP)in 1988, involving intensive consultations in thirty-six rural and urban communities, and the municipality of Kampala.

24 UNDP, Uganda Human Development Report 2000: Unemployment and Poverty, (Kampala: UNDP, 2000), para. 7.5.

25 Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, “The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Third Country Status Report,” December 1999, (Kampala: MGLSD, 1999), p. 2.

26 Uganda AIDS Commission, “The HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Facts and Figures, May 2002,” [online], (retrieved April 12, 2003).

27 Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 41. Article 237 of the constitution and section 3 of the 1998 Land Act provide that land in Uganda belongs to Ugandan citizens and vests in accordance with four land tenure systems, namely: Customary Land Tenure, Freehold, and Leasehold, and Mailo (peculiar to the Buganda, the Mailo system was established by article 15 of the 1900 Buganda Agreement—also known as the Uganda Agreement—between Britain and the Kingdom of Buganda). Article 237(4)(a) of the constitution recognizes customary tenure. Article 237(4) of the constitution also provides that tenants on customary land can acquire a certificate of customary ownership and convert their holding to a freehold title. Art. 237(8) of the constitution guarantees security of tenure to tenants on registered land who can acquire a certificate of occupancy. The Land Act recognizes the right to hold communal land. For general information on women and the land reform process, see Gender Perspectives in the Land Reform Process in Uganda, (Kampala: Uganda Land Alliance, 2002).

28 UNDP, Uganda Human Development Report, 2000, para. 3.10.

29 Ibid.,para. 3.8.

30 Republic of Uganda, “Summary of Background to the Budget 2001/02, Uganda Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Progress Report 2002,” (Kampala: Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, 2000), p. 11, [online], (retrieved April 12, 2003).

31 UNDP, Uganda Human Development Report, 2000, para. 6.4. In 1997 Uganda became the first country in the world to be given debt relief—equivalent to U.S.$71 million—by the “Paris Club” (a grouping of Western state banks and private donors and financiers). Funds have been used to support projects such as water supplies, health care, and education. In May 2000, Uganda was also the first country to benefit from a new enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, which provided debt relief of an additional U.S.$45-50 million per year for the first three years.

32 UNDP, Uganda Human Development Report, 2000, para. 6.3.

33 The Judicature Act, 1967, sec. 16, Laws of Uganda.

34 MGLSD, “Third Country Status Report,” p. 4.

35 Ibid., p. 11.

36 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995, art. 2.

37 Republic of Uganda, Courts of Judicature, [online], (retrieved April 11, 2003). The Courts of Judicature also include the Court of Appeal and the High Court. Qadhi courts, which administer Islamic law (Shari’a) in family matters are included as subordinate courts. See Republic of Uganda, “Courts of Judicature.” The Court of Appeal doubles as the Constitutional Court. See MGLSD, “Third Country Status Report,” p. 6. Magistrate Grade II courts also function as Family and Children’s Courts. See the Children’s Statute, secs. 14 and 16, 1996. See also MGLSD, “Third Country Status Report,” p. 5.

38 During the guerrilla war of the early 1980s, the NRM formed locally elected, nine-person committees known as resistance councils (RCs) in the areas it controlled. The enactment of the Resistance Committees (Judicial Powers) Statute 1987 resulted in the administrative units being vested with judicial powers (now referred to as local council courts since the passing of the 1995 Constitution and the Local Government Act of 1997).

39 LC4 and LC5 are largely administrative.

40 Where a person dies without making a will.

41 Republic of Uganda, “Summary of Background to the Budget 2001/02, Uganda Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Progress Report 2002,” p. 43.

42 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995, art. 180(2)(b). Uganda Local Government Act, 1997, secs. 11(e), 24(1)(e), 24(2)(e), 24(3)(e), 24(4)(e). An amendment to section 2 of the Local Government Act, adopted on June 7, 2001, provides as an additional objective, “[T]o establish affirmative action in favor of groups marginalized on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom, for the purpose of addressing imbalances which exist against them.”

43 Lawyers are not allowed in the LC courts but may provide their clients with advice beforehand.

44 Republic of Uganda, “Summary of Background to the Budget 2001/02, Uganda Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Progress Report 2002,” p. 42.

45 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Girls' Education In Uganda, n.d.,UNICEF/HQ99-0136/Pirozzi, p. 1, [online], (retrieved April 12, 2003). The increased enrollment has overburdened the system and contributed to a decline in the quality of education offered. In 2000, the government admitted: “It is generally agreed that the quality of education in Uganda declined seriously between the mid-1970s and the late 1980s, and the increased enrollment is now straining the system. . . . The heavily burdened primary schooling system cannot meet the immediate demands for classrooms, teachers, and teaching/learning materials.” See Republic of Uganda, “Uganda’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan, Summary And Main Objectives,” Uganda Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, (Kampala: Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, 2000), p. 10, [online], (retrieved April 12, 2003).

46 The total number of girls enrolled in primary school as a proportion of the total number of primary school age girls surveyed.

47 UNICEF, Girls' Education In Uganda, p. 1.

48 Ibid., p. 2.

49 Formal education in Uganda is divided into three major cycles: primary school (seven years), secondary school (six years), and tertiary (two to five years).

50 Senior 4 is approximately equivalent twelve years combined primary and secondary education and corresponds to the GCE (General Certificate of Education, now GCSE) Ordinary level (O-level) grade. The GCE is an internationally recognized qualification at secondary level. O-level examinations are usually taken after five years of secondary education.

51 Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 29.

52 MGLSD, “Third Country Status Report,” p. 37. In 1990, the government added a 1.5-point “bonus” to the scores of female qualifying candidates for admission to university to increase their numbers. The government has also embarked upon functional adult literacy programs. See the Status Report, pp. 39 and 40.

53 UNDP, Uganda Human Development Report 2000, para. 3.5.

54 Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 22.

55 Resource Centre, Ministry of Health, Uganda, “Statistical Abstract,” June 2001, (Kampala: Ministry of Health, 2001), p. 7. In the same year, the U.N. calculated that there were 1,500units, of which the government operated 60 percent. The remaining 40 percent were run by NGOs or are privately owned and operated. Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 23.

56 UNDP, Uganda Human Development Report, 2000, para. 3.10.

57 Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 23.

58 Ibid.,p. 24.

59 Gerard Bodeker et al., “A Regional Task Force on Traditional Medicine and AIDS,” The Lancet, April 8, 2000, vol. 355, p. 1284. Reproduced in its entirety under the World Bank, IK Notes, “Traditional Medicine and AIDS,” vol. 26, November 2000, p. 1, [online], (retrieved April 12, 2003).

60 Uganda AIDS Commission Secretariat, “Twenty Years of HIV/AIDS in the World—Evolution of the Epidemic and Response in Uganda,” (Kampala: UAC Secretariat, June 2001), p. 2.

61 Ibid.

62 UNAIDS, UNAIDS HIV Drug Access Initiative: Pilot Phase, Best Practice Digest, n.d., [online], (retrieved May 20, 2003). The Uganda Ministry of Health-UNAIDS HIV/AIDS Drug Access Initiative estimates the number at 1.5 million. See Uganda Ministry of Health/UNAIDS-Uganda/CDC, “Preliminary Report: Uganda Ministry of Health–UNAIDS HIV/AIDS Drug Access Initiative,” August 1998-March 2000, [online], /care/UNAIDS_DAI/uguanda_drug_access_initiative.doc (retrieved May 20, 2003). A U.N. 2002 update estimates the number of adults and children living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2001 at 600,000. See UNAIDS/WHO, Epidemiological Fact Sheets on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections, Uganda, 2002 Update, p.2, [online], (retrieved May 28, 2003).

63 “Global Challenges: Ugandan President Says HIV/AIDS Costs Uganda More Than $700 Million Each Year,”, November 19, 2002, [online], rep_index.cfm? DR_ID=14659 (retrieved May 13, 2002).

64 MGLSD, “Third Country Status Report,” p. 51.

65 AIDS Information Centre, “HIV Prevalence by Age Groups among adult 1st time testers,” n.d., (Kampala: AIC).

66 Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Lukanika-Hitimana, executive director, AIDS Information Centre, Kampala, December 11, 2002.

67 Uganda AIDS Commission, “The HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Facts and Figures,” (Kampala: UAC, 2002), [online], (retrieved March 17, 2003).

68 See for example, WHO, Uganda reverses the tide of HIV/AIDS, Health, A Key to Prosperity, Success Stories in Developing Countries, [online], (retrieved June 24, 2003). WHO reports, “Since 1993, HIV infection rates among pregnant women, a key indicator of the progress of the epidemic, have been more than halved in some areas and infection rates among men seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections have dropped by over a third.” According to one government official, President Museveni’s commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS dates back to 1986, when almost one third of his top military officers training in Cuba tested positive for HIV. Human Rights Watch interview with Miria Matembe, minister of ethics and integrity, Kampala, January 13, 2003.

69 Human Rights Watch interview with Miria Matembe, minister of ethics and integrity, Kampala, January 13, 2003.

70 Human Rights Watch interview with Pastor Wilberforce Owori, Tororo, December 16, 2002.

71 STD/AIDS Control Programme, “HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report,” (Kampala: Ministry of Health, 2002), p. 19.

72 Uganda AIDS Commission Secretariat, “Twenty Years of HIV/AIDS in the World,” p. 2.

73 Ibid.

74 Uganda AIDS Commission, National AIDS Documentation Centre, “Uganda HIV/AIDS Control Project (UACP),” n.d., [online], (retrieved February 17, 2003).

75 Uganda AIDS Commission, National AIDS Documentation Centre, “Mandate and Background,” n.d., [online], (retrieved February 17, 2003).

76 Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, mental health programme, Ministry of Health, Kampala, January 14, 2003.

77 Uganda AIDS Commission, National AIDS Documentation Centre, “Uganda HIV/AIDS Control Project (UACP).

78 Development partners include the World Bank; the World Health Organisation (WHO); the European Union; the British Department for International Development (DFID); the Danish Agency for Development Assistance (DANIDA); the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA); and the Italian, German, French, Dutch, and Japanese governments. See Uganda AIDS Commission Secretariat, “Twenty Years of HIV/AID in the World,” p. 2. According to UNAIDS Uganda Country Advisor Reuben Delprado, future UNAIDS efforts will incorporate a focus on resource management, access to treatment, and the collection, synthesis, and sharing of strategic information. Human Rights Watch interview with Reuben Delprado, Uganda country advisor, UNAIDS, Kampala, January 12, 2003. Daouda Touré, director of UNDP-Uganda told Human Rights Watch: “UNDP is well placed to look at women’s rights. In the U.N. system we are looking at a human rights approach. We want to be the cop that comes before the fine.” Human Rights Watch interview with Daouda Touré, resident coordinator/U.N. resident representative, UNDP-Uganda, Kampala, January 14, 2003. Donors explained to Human Rights Watch that they include a focus on HIV/AIDS and gender in other programming. Human Rights Watch interviews with H.E. Flemming Bjørk Pedersen, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, Kampala, January 14, 2003, and H.E. Tore Gjøs, Ambassador, Royal Norwegian Embassy, Kampala, January 16, 2003.

79 The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, “Fact Sheet,” n.d., [online], http://www.globalfundatm .org/proposals/round1/fsheets/uganda.html (retrieved July 25, 2003).

80 On January 28, 2003, President George W. Bush announced the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a five-year, U.S.$15 billion initiative touted to turn the tide in the global effort to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. United States Department of State, International Information Programs, fact sheet, “White House Outlines Bush HIV/AIDS Programs for Africa,” January 29, 2003, [online], (retrieved April 7, 2003).

81 The amendment offered by Rep. Joseph Pitts requires one-third of HIV/AIDS prevention funds to promote “abstinence-until-marriage.” For a general discussion on federally funded abstinence-only programs in the United States, see Human Rights Watch, Ignorance Only: HIV/AIDS, Human Rights And Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Programs In The United States, Texas: A Case Study, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2002). Sally Ethelston, vice president of communications at Population Action International, stated: “This amendment completely denies the reality of AIDS in Africa, where women are disproportionately impacted by the spread of HIV. Gender inequities frequently leave them powerless to ‘just say no’ to sex, and unable to know whether their partners are being truly monogamous. Not to mention the fact that men in sub-Saharan Africa have access on average to fewer than five condoms per year.” See Population Action International, “Global AIDS Bill Passage Good News But Marred by Abstinence-Until-Marriage Clause,” May 1, 2003, [online], (Retrieved May 13, 2003). Physicians For Human Rights U.S. Policy Director Holly Burkhalter made a similar point: “Funding abstinence programs as part of an integrated prevention strategy can be effective. Funds for stand-alone programs deny best public health practices by failing to recognize the value of condoms – the only existing physical barrier to sexual transmission of the disease. By diverting AIDS money to ineffective programs, money will be wasted, and more importantly, lives will be lost.” “Physicians for Human Rights Welcomes Passage of AIDS Bill: Cautions against Emphasis on Abstinence-Only,” May 1, 2003, [online], (retrieved May 13, 2003). International women’s groups have welcomed an amendment aimed at providing financial assistance “for the purpose of encouraging men to be responsible in their sexual behavior, child rearing, and to respect women,” and calls for programs that address sexual violence and coercion, including wife inheritance and polygamy. The amendment was offered by Rep. Joseph Crowley. See Juliet Eilperin, “Senate Passes AIDS Measure for Africa:Provision Would Promote Sexual Responsibility, Respect for Women Among Men,” Washington Post, May 16, 2003, [online], (retrieved July 19, 2003).

82 In May, Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance stated: “Sadly, the President, and top Congressional decision-makers like Senator Frist and Speaker Hastert seem to have little intention of actually providing this level of funding. They are playing a cruel joke on countries battling for their very survival.” Global AIDS Alliance, “AIDS Bill Is a 'Bad Check' that will Bounce: Bill Also Fails to Mandate Vitally Needed Debt Relief,” May 16, 2003, [online], (retrieved May 19, 2003).

83 Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 30.

84 For a general discussion on domestic violence globally, see Human Rights Watch, The Human Rights Watch Global Report on Women’s Human Rights (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1995), chapter 6. Additional reports on domestic violence in specific countries include: Human Rights Watch, Sacrificing Women to Save the Family? Domestic Violence in Uzbekistan (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2001); Human Rights Watch, Seeking Protection: Addressing Sexual and Domestic Violence in Tanzania’s Refugee Camps (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2000); Human Rights Watch, Crime or Custom? Violence Against Women in Pakistan (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999); Human Rights Watch, (Russia) Too Little, Too Late: State Response to Violence Against Women (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1997); Human Rights Watch, Violence Against Women in South Africa: The State Response to Domestic Violence and Rape (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1995); and Human Rights Watch, Violence Against Women And The Medico-Legal System (South Africa) (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1997).

85 Law & Advocacy for Women – Uganda, “Project Report on the Domestic Violence Study,” second Edition,(Kampala: LAW-U, 2001), p. 59.

86 Innocenti Research Centre, Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls, June 2000, Innocenti Digest no. 6, (Italy: UNICEF,2000), p. 5.

87 Dan Kaye, “Risk Factors, Nature and Severity of Domestic Violence among Women Attending Antenatal Clinics in Mulago Hospital, Kampala, Uganda,” Central African Journal of Medicine, vol. 48, no. 5/6, May/June 2001, p. 64. Human Rights Watch interview with Dan Kaye, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Makerere University Medical School, Kampala, January 15, 2003.

88 These figures did not include reports of domestic violence made in December as these were not available at the time of our interview.

89 Human Rights Watch interview with Helen Alyek, superintendent, Child and Family Protection Unit, Nsambya Police Station, December 19, 2002.

90 Established by the United Nations to monitor compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

91 CEDAW Committee Draft Report, Consideration of Reports of State Parties, Uganda, (advance unedited version), Third Periodic Report, (Exceptional session, August 5 to 23, 2002), U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/ 2002/EXC/CRP.3/Add.3/Rev 1, para. 23,[online], (retrieved December 1, 2002).

92 Threatening Violence, sec. 76; Common Assault, sec. 227; Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm sec. 228; Grievous Harm, sec. 212. The Penal Code, (Chapter 106), Laws of Uganda, (1978 reprint).

93 The presumption that a spouse consents to sex with their partner through the act of marriage.

94 LAW-U,“Project Report on the Domestic Violence Study,” p. 58.

95 Ibid.

96 Specioza Kazibwe resigned from the post of vice-president in May 2003. See “Uganda: Mixed reaction to vice-president's resignation,”, Nairobi, May 22, 2003, [online], Http:// (retrieved May 22, 2003).

97 For an example on the debate surrounding Kazibwe’s allegations, see “Should the VP have remained silent?” The New Vision, March 19, 2002, [online], CategoryId=31&newsId=48895 (retrieved May 27, 2003).

98 The Coalition Against Gender Violence, Population Secretariat, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, “An Assessment of Gender Violence In Apac and Mbale Districts of Uganda, 1999 to 2000” (Kampala: Coalition Against Gender Violence, 2000), p. 80.

99 CEDAW Committee Draft Report, Consideration of Reports of State Parties, Uganda, para. 7.

100 Human Rights Watch refers to “polygyny” as “the state or practice of having more than one wife or female mate at one time” rather than “polygamy,” being a marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time. However, we may quote interviewees using the blanket term “polygamy.”

101 CEDAW Committee, Concluding Comments, Consideration of Reports of State Parties, para. 17.

102 The Uganda Law Reform Commission, established in 1990 with a mandate to formulate and assist in implementing laws that adhere to international standards and the Constitution, drafted the Domestic Relations Bill to address inequities in Ugandan laws on issues of domestic relations. The Sexual Offences Bill, drafted in 1999, came about partly as a reaction to proposals for lowering the age of consent to provide for earlier marriages of girls. Wary of overloading the Domestic Relations Bill, the Law Reform Commission proposed the drafting of an alternative bill relating specifically to domestic violence.

103 Human Rights Watch interview with Miria Matembe, minister of ethics and integrity, Kampala, January 13, 2003.

104 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995, arts. 78 and 180.

105 United Nations Press Release, “Landmark constitution creates enabling environment for women, Ugandan minister tells committee,” Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women 575th & 576th Meetings (AM & PM), August 9, 2002, WOM/1355,[online], (retrieved December 1, 2002).

106 Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), “Issues Paper On Outstanding Areas of Priority to Gender Equality” (Kampala: UWONET, November 2002), p. 4.

107 MGLSD, “Third Country Status Report,” p.8: “The women’s council is a six-tier structure beginning at the village level, through the district, up to the national level. The councils are local fora for women through which they are mobilized for civic and development activities in their local areas.”

108 Ugandan law recognizes five types of marriages: civil, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and customary. Apart from numerous unwritten customary laws, the main statutory framework relating to marriage and divorce includes: the Marriage Act (Cap. or chapter 211, Laws of Uganda), Marriage of Africans Act (Cap. 212, Laws of Uganda), the Marriage and Divorce of Mohammedans Act (Cap. 213, Laws of Uganda) governing all marriages and divorces between Muslims, the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act (Cap. 214, Laws of Uganda), and the Divorce Act (Cap. 215, Laws of Uganda). The Customary Marriages Registration Decree, 1973, (Decree No. 16), provides for a uniform system of registration of customary marriages.

109 Sylvia Tamale, “Law Reform and Women’s Rights in Uganda,” East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights, vol. 1:2, 1993, p. 170.

110 The practice of widow inheritance originally arose as a social institution designed for men to take responsibility for their dead brother’s children and his household.

111 Sylvia Tamale, “Law Reform and Women’s Rights in Uganda,” p. 177.

112 The land management hierarchy includes the Uganda Land Commission, which is responsible for all government land, district land boards, and land committees in each parish, gazetted urban areas or division in the case of Kampala that function as advisory bodies to the District Land Boards. Under the 1998 Land Act, jurisdiction over customary land cases passed from local council and magistrates’ courts to district and sub-county land tribunals. One or both parties may still invite traditional authorities to hear their matter. Land Act, 1998, sec. 89. Section 81(2) of the Land Act provides that at least one of the members of the Land Tribunals at the sub-county level must be a woman. However, there is no such stipulation for District Land Tribunals.

113MGLSD, “Third Country Status Report,” p. 44.

114 Common Country Assessment, Uganda: Promise, Performance and Future Challenges, p. 42.

115 MGLSD, “Third Country Status Report,” p. 44.

116 Adopted June 30, 1998 and enacted July 2, 1998.

117 Where two or more people have a joint interest in property. The land may be held jointly, whereby land is registered in the names of two or more people. On the death of one owner, full ownership vests in the surviving owner. The land may also be held in common, whereby the owners have separate interests in the same property, and their heirs inherit their share.

118 Gerald Businge, “Did women activists tactfully sneak co-ownership into the new Land Bill?” The New Vision, July 1, 2003, [online], (retrieved July 2, 2003). Section 39(a) is reported to protect the interests of spouses in land on which the family “ordinarily resides” or land on which both or all spouses “ordinarily reside and derive sustenance.” Each spouse now has the right to give or withhold his or her consent on any transaction on family land. Some activists argue that failing to provide for co-ownership of land particularly as it will exclude family members who do not formally register their interests, weakens the clause. E-mail from Uganda Land Alliance to Human Rights Watch, May 30, 2002.

119 “President Raps Bill,” The New Vision, July 22, 2003, published July 16, 2003, [online], President Museveni reportedly opposes the “decentralization of land issues.”

120 Republic of Uganda, “Uganda’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan, Summary And Main Objectives,” p. 11. The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) is one of the seven components under the Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA). A semi-autonomous body formed under the NAADS Act of June 2001, its mandate is to develop a demand driven, farmer-led agricultural service delivery system targeting poor subsistence farmers, with, inter alia, anemphasis on women. The Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment, the Ministry of Finance, the Law Reform Commission, the Uganda Land Alliance, and Makerere University developed a Land Sector Strategic Plan 2001-2011 (LSSP) for the implementation of sector-wide reforms, including implementation of the Land Act. The final draft was issued in November 2001. The LSSP is intended to guide the management and use of Uganda’s land resources and highlights co-ownership of family land, the amendment of discriminatory inheritance laws, and strengthening women’s land rights generally as priorities for reform.

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August 2003