It is the belief in a power larger than myself and other than myself which allows me to venture into the unknown and even the unknowable. – Maya Angelou
Nazziwa Annette, 19, was attacked by her husband Douglas Ssempija on November 30th 2010.
He cut off her hands in front of their infant daughter and mother. Using a machete he chopped off both of her arms and Nazziwa’s life was only saved by quick action on part of her family who carried her to the nearest hospital.
Douglas Ssempiija spent two months in hiding and was finally arrested on 5th February 2011 and sentenced on 8th February. He was sentenced to ten years in jail but could be released in just seven.
Women’s rights groups are outraged at the light sentence for Ssempiija who pleaded guilty to attempted murder. Activists in Uganda are calling for the government to put more resources into solving domestic violence.
The police did not arrest Ssempiija for three months after the attack during which time he continued to threaten Nazziwa and her family. He was only taken into custody earlier this month after development agency ActionAid gave the local police force money to pay for the petrol to go to the area and arrest him. ActionAid also supported Nazziwa in bringing the case against her husband.
Activists say that the police have no budget to tackle domestic violence cases, which are widespread in Uganda. According to a 2006 government survey 68 per cent of Ugandan women had suffered physical violence within the home within the previous twelve months. ActionAid were pushing the Resident State Attorney to lodge an appeal by 28th February.
Women like Nazziwa are incredible. They show incredible strength and courage in the face of horror and violence. Action Aid have been campaigning for Nazziwa and many women like her. The appeal against the lightness of the sentence was submitted on the 28th February, and no further information can be given or discussed at this time. But Nazziwa is not alone.
The centenary of International Women’s Day is on 8th March – a day for celebrating the incredible economic, social and political achievements of women over the past 100 years. Yet we are living in a world where women are still suffering and considered second class citizens, commodities to be bought and sold and owned, a punchbag to aim at, merely a machine to produce the sons that will carry on the family line.
“I was 16 when my father was nearly beaten to death by his own brothers. His crime?Wasting family resources by educating me – a girl – instead of ‘selling’ me off in marriage to earn a bride price for our clan.” Florence Apuri, ActionAid Uganda Program Manager
For millions each year, 8th Mar is a time to celebrate the amazing progress women have made.
Since the first IWD when people marched across Europe for women’s right to vote, work and hold public office amazing economic, political and social achievements women have been made.
For ActionAid, it’s also time to shine a spotlight on the struggles women are facing today in the developing world and to build solidarity to tackle the urgent challenges ahead.
We want to work towards a world where women and men, girls and boys have equally good chances in life, free from want and free from fear.
Visit Action Aid’s Get Lippy! pages and send messages of support to women in the developing world: http://www.actionaid.org.uk/102779/get_lippy.html#