I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have worn shorts for hiking.

The title of this blog is meant to drive home the sad fact that a woman in Uganda in the year 2016, while going hiking, should now carry with her a change of clothes for when she is being dropped off after in a public place.

Last week I wrote about how on 23rd April, a mob of men were shouting at me for wearing shorts and the traffic officer I approached (Ainomujuni) to ask them to stop instead told me I ‘wanted it’ and later grabbed me by my upper left arm, slapped it six times ordering me to leave, and tugged at my wrist forcefully when I wouldn’t leave.

He walked away, leaving me in a worse situation than before, with my potential molesters having witnessed an officer of the law attack me and order me off the petrol station. Thus emboldened, a man selling watermelons ordered me to go away and as I saw he was gathering support, I run to a security guard who sheltered me.

What I did not say was that afterwards, one of the men shouting followed me and grabbed my right arm, forcefully pulling me back. Luckily, my boyfriend was in front of me and I cried out his name. He chased the man for a few minutes and gave up. I believe this attack on me was encouraged by Ainomujuni’s public contempt towards me. Shaking with humiliation, rage and in tears, my boyfriend drove me home.

The next evening, he and I went to the Katwe Police Station together and Ainomujuni was the first man we saw. I told him I’d come to file a complaint against him and he smiled arrogantly. I called my boyfriend out of the car and Ainomujuni greeted him smiling still, but with a hint of unease now. My boyfriend told him to appreciate the uniform he was wearing and the power it gave him to put his hands on me.

I was surprisingly denied a chance to file a complaint. The officer we spoke to told me I first had to speak to the Officer in Charge (O.C) of Traffic, a Mr. Naikuma.

And that is where the unrealistic horror and second phase of trauma of this story begins.

I went alone yesterday on the 27th of April to the police station to Naikuma’s office and said I wanted to file a complaint. After telling him my story, he asked Ainomujuni by phone to come the office. Naikuma then started to tell me how this was our society, and he was not ‘defending the men’ but when I am alone in some areas, I should be careful to-

“No”, I interjected firmly. “The time has come for you to start telling men to be careful and not women. Don’t tell me to feel safe or afraid by dressing right for strange men before I leave the house. You go out there and tell the men to start being afraid. They continue to have power because when we come to you, you tell us how to avoid it being our fault. I’ve been hearing that story since I grew breasts. I don’t want to hear it in here!”

Ainomujuni came in and sat down opposite me, and Naikuma asked him if my story was true.

“No”, Ainomujuni smirked. “She’s a liar. I don’t know this woman”.

“What do you mean you don’t know me?”, I asked. “We’ve met twice. This is the third time. Do you remember speaking to my boyfriend the other day? Have you forgotten that?”

After a little back and forth, Ainomujuni said, “You know, I think there was a woman who came to me. It may have been this one. She seemed worried and she said something about shorts and men shouting. I told her to just do what she wanted to do and be normal. She said I was not helping her and would call the Commandant at the Professional Standards Unit. And that’s all I remember”.

Ah. A bit of his deceitful memory was coming back, with lies issuing from it.

“You don’t remember meeting me the second time with my boyfriend?”, I demanded. “You don’t remember refusing to take a phone I gave you with an officer on the line from the Professional Standards Unit? You don’t remember grabbing my arm before that? You don’t remember slapping it? You don’t remember – you know what? Let me illustrate how you tugged my wrist!”.

I stood up, walked toward him and tugged his wrist like he had mine.

“Don’t touch me!” he snapped.

“Oh yes!”, I said. “Do you remember me telling you not to touch me?”

“Sit down!”, he ordered twice, pointing at my chair threateningly.

A man I was accusing of physical assault was ordering and intimidating me in front of his boss, who was allowing it. Worse, his boss helped him.

“Excuse me!” he said to me. “If that is how you are going to behave, I’m going to tell both of you to leave and you can sort it out between yourselves”.

And this is when Naikuma neatly entered my complaint list. He was telling the victim of a crime that if she did not stop being upset, he was going to leave her alone with her attacker.

“Fine”, I said after that threat, but I was not cowed. “Ainomujuni can hit me and put me in danger of being stripped for shorts and I can’t even get upset? You know what? I’m done talking with this liar. Kindly let me file my complaint, give me a case number and I get out of here and allow the law to start taking its course”.

“This is even a minor issue-”, Naikuma started.

“This is not a minor issue!”, I almost shouted. “Let me file a complaint!”.

For the second time, I was denied a chance to do that. My frustration was now reaching magnificent levels. Naikuma said I first had to speak to the O.C of the station. I can’t be certain but I think his name was Mulooba. We went to his office and for the third time I repeated my story. Mulooba asked Ainomujuni if the story was true. He maintained again that I was lying.

“I remember some woman coming to me”, he said. “I think it was this one here. Now, that woman-”

“Stop saying that woman”, I interjected. “You know it was me”.

“Anyway, she was talking a lot and I just thought she was a comedian”, he said, motioning the ‘crazy’ sign with his finger around his ear. He was calling me crazy. I was boiling with rage like a volcano. These police men were treating me like a stupid infant, not taking me seriously and they did not care about my case at all.

“I remember this lady”, Ainomujuni now said. “I remember I told her to just be there and keep on with what she was doing”.

“Now you remember that?”, said I. At least the lie was consistent.

“You know”, the station O.C Mulooba said. “I wasn’t there and neither was Naikuma so we can’t say anything. But it perturbs me…you know…why Ainomujuni would leave his traffic to just go and hit an innocent woman. That is what perturbs me”.

I didn’t even want to think about what he was implying with that statement.

“Okay”, I said. “Why are you not perturbed by the fact that he would tell a woman being screamed at by a mob of men to go back to it? Why are you not perturbed by the fact that he didn’t tell me I was smack dab in the middle of THREE police posts that I could have reported the men to or gone to for safety? Why are you not perturbed by the fact that he left me there unsafe? Why are you all handling this case so carelessly?!”

And here, O.C Mulooba developed balls the size of giant coconuts.

“Excuse me?” he said to me in an intimidating manner. “You now have the guts to abuse me? You dare to call me careless?”

“Abuse you?”, I exclaimed. “How am I abusing you?”

“It’s clear you are high-”, “Mulooba started.

“High?!” I don’t know how I wasn’t screaming yet. “I’m sitting in a room with a man who caused me physical and emotional trauma and you think I’m abusing you because I’m not happy with how things are going?”

Mulooba continued his intimidation. “I am now going to put you higher up in the hierarchy because I cannot help you. I can assure you that in any office I’m sitting in, I would not help you and right now I will not help you!”

He was going to put me higher up. He wanted me to repeat my story a fourth time. I just wanted to file a complaint and the O.C of a station was refusing to help me do that. Because as befits a victim being tossed around like cabbage, I was upset and therefore I was ‘high’ and undeserving of his assistance.

I had to leave. I knew that if I stayed for even 15 more seconds I was going to mentally snap, hurl myself at him, break at least three of his teeth and get arrested for assaulting an officer.

sad

This is a truly horrific experience for me. Since the initial incident, I could barely sleep or focus on work. The little time seeking justice is spent with police men intimidating me and treating me like a little girl who needs discipline. This type of behaviour towards victims of assault has to be something normal for them or I wouldn’t be experiencing it. We women deserve better than for the clothes on our bodies to become a matter of national security.

 

 

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18 thoughts on “I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have worn shorts for hiking.

  1. To the person who said “I find that when people play the race, gender or sexuality card, the world is bullied into silence, no one asks any more questions.”

    I am so embarrassed for you. Let’s deconstruct why there is a gender, race or sexuality card, it is because women (and non gender-binary folks), black people (and other people of color) and non-straight people have been subjected various forms of violence and discrimination ranging from lynching, raping, mass incarceration, colonialism, slavery, Jim Crow, denying education, housing, among many many other things. People belonging to these marginalized groups do not enjoy being oppressed contrary to your beliefs nor do they enjoy “playing their race, gender or sexuality card”.

    No one should be victimized or violated period. Especially not based on how they dress. This young woman has expressed a valid concern, an actual experience that many African (and other women) have. It is people like you who silence these voices and perpetuate violence. I think the only convincing line for someone who thinks like you to imagine if this were to happen to a woman you know. But I honestly think that that line is full of bullshit, you do not need violence to be happening to your mother or daughter for you to care about an issue pertaining to misogyny or women’s rights. I would also say imagine if it were you, but given your male privilege I’m not sure you can imagine being criticized for how you dress, how you sit, how you walk. the list goes on.

    Anyway, if you would like to be a decent human being, I suggest not breaking down, criticizing and discrediting the experiences of a woman who has experienced injustice. Especially given the fact that this is not the first case of sexual harassment or violence of this type that has come up. Get off your high horse. Ask yourself how you can create an environment where this doesn’t have to happen. Ask yourself why you and the police authorities are so quick to discredit and dismantle any cases of gender based or sexual violence. Stop being a hateful human being.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So Aine if your questions are eventually answered….What will that change?Are you Justice?Are you a Juror?Are you willing or able to help her after she undertakes to answer all questions?Did you not think to yourself that by the time she was williing to file a complaint,that she felt she had been violated?Your questions however valid they are cannot provoke societal change.What can is a an overhaul in discplinary measures taken against Officers of the law for such omissions.And i will personally make my best efforts to raise awareness about this WITH NO QUESTIONS ASKED keeping in mind that her boyfriend could not(if the circumstances had been worse) save her from the mob of men that were threatening and hurling insults at her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Guys anybody asking her where her boyfriend was or how far he was or how short her shorts were is OFF the point!!! Even if she were naked NO MAN HAS A RIGHT TO ABUSE ANY WOMAN…… NONE WHAT SO EVER! I don’t see any of these messed up men chasing on Mad naked women walking in our markets!! Men who assault women are perverts who use the woman’s dress as an excuse to do this.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. REPLY TO MR.AINE’S COMMENT

    I started by saying ‘Last week I wrote about…’. Some of your doubts can be addressed by scrolling down and reading the first part of this story.

    Otherwise, you’re trying to excuse a lot of bullshit by focusing on my role…in what exactly? Standing in a public spot? Your questions support the normality of violence against women and society making it our fault. You can call it playing the gender card if you please. I don’t care. I’m tired of experiencing this ‘gender card’ and want this nonsense to stop.

    You continue thinking what you please about my role in supporting a group of men to shout at me, and an officer refusing to help.

    Like

  5. I am sorry that you experienced this. Unfortunately, I feel that you are not telling the whole story. A little clarity would help;

    1. “Luckily, my boyfriend was in front of me and I cried out his name.” “I called my boyfriend out of the car” Why was your boyfriend who is probably your dearest, removed from your experience? if your boyfriend had walked away from you, why did you expect the traffic officer probably at his job to stop everything and tell people to stop shouting at you? You could have just walked away from those lunatics.

    2. You are a very small lady, you should get away with anything you dress in, is there another reason this escalated? Where we you dropped at? which public place was this?

    3. “a mob of men were shouting at me for wearing shorts and the traffic officer I approached (Ainomujuni) to ask them to stop instead told me I ‘wanted it’ and later grabbed me by my upper left arm, slapped it six times ordering me to leave, and tugged at my wrist forcefully when I wouldn’t leave.” Why did you have to be forced to leave a situation that wasn’t good for you?

    4. “Why are you not perturbed by the fact that he left me there unsafe? Why are you all handling this case so carelessly?” “later grabbed me by my upper left arm, slapped it six times ordering me to leave, and tugged at my wrist forcefully when I wouldn’t leave” Something isn’t adding up!

    I find that when people play the race, gender or sexuality card, the world is bullied into silence, no one asks any more questions.

    Like

  6. where was your boyfriend when men were chasing you? how short were your shorts because ladies put on patras and go without threat. why were you so unfortunate?

    Like

  7. Have you read the Michelle Fields story, the reporter who accused Donald Trump’s campaign manager of assault? Your story sounds exactly like hers. The burden of proof in your case unfortunately appears heavier as there is no video of the alleged assault like there was in Michelle Field’s (which btw was also dismissed). In our context you would have to loose an eye before a claim of assault is to be believed, unfortunately!

    Like

  8. Ridiculous that a woman is expected to consider the possible reactions her dressing might stir in strange men. Sorry you had to endure this ordeal Lindsey

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is what our society and the law enforcers has come to some how we the ladies have to pay for the perveted minds of men we are the ones supposed to change our dressing and not them to change their perveted minds. Our police system to is corrupted the real criminals are the police so how is one supposed to get help? Sorry about your ordeal though must be traumatising

    Like

  10. Solidarity from Sri Lanka! The police in my country are as awful 😦 As women, we are meant to have a facility to talk to a female officer, sometimes there are women’s units inside police stations too. But it’s not as if the patriarchal attitude doesn’t reproduce itself in the female officers 😦

    Like

  11. Very typical response I am afraid, our society is steeped in chauvinism, and blatant discrimination of women. The men think they are entitled to gain knowledge for us according to their own ends. Disgusted of Ntinda

    Like

  12. This is the second time I’m experiencing this. The first time they told me they could not help me when I was reporting street assault because I had used vulgar language against my attackers and by doing so I had tried to take the law into my hands so I did not have a case.

    Like

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