The U.S. and French ambassadors joined dozens of Ugandan demonstrators in Kampala on Saturday to protest against what they say is rising violence against women, including murder, rape and kidnapping for ransom.
A flurry of unsolved killings and kidnappings has erodedUgandans’ trust in the security forces. Since early last yearthe bodies of more than 20 women have been dumped on roadsidesin Kampala.
The failure of police to issue an annual crime report since2013 has fueled suspicionthey are trying to conceal the scaleof the problem.
Protesters wore black T-shirts and carried posters bearingthe names and ages of women who had been raped and killed incases that remain unsolved.
“I want this march to raise awareness about what’s goingon,” Stephanie Rivoal, French ambassador to Uganda, toldreporters at the march.
“When women are killed, sometimes they don’t attract the sameattention as when men are killed. I am here to make a statementthat women’s lives matter in the same way as men’s lives,” she said.
Critics say the police devote most of their resources andattention to thwarting opponents of Uganda’s long-servingPresident Yoweri Museveni instead of
detecting and deterring crimes against women.
In a particularly high-profile case, Susan Magara, adaughter of a wealthy businessman, was kidnapped in February inKampala. Her body was found two weeks later, even after thekidnappers had been paid a ransom, according to local media.
In a speech this month, Museveni accused some members of thesecurity forces of conniving with criminals and announcedmeasures including the collection of DNA from all Ugandans tohelp curb surging crime in the East African nation.
Police spokesman Patrick Onyango said Saturday’s march wasunnecessary.
“I think the organizers want to harvest political capital, because all crimes that they talking about where women victimshave been involved … we have investigated them and arrestedperpetrators,” Onyango said.