ENCOURAGE UGANDA'S PARLIAMENT TO PASS THE ACID ATTACKS PROHIBITION AND PREVENTION BILL
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Let me tell you my story. I am many things. I am Ugandan. I am a mother. I am an artisan and businesswoman. I am also a SURVIVOR. I am a survivor of an acid attack that left me scarred forever and terrified and hopeless for a long time. It is a story that many of my sisters in Uganda and around the world can also tell you, because acid attacks disproportionally affect women and girls. My story is my own and at the same time, it echoes the cries of my fellow survivors and the cries of my country.
My name is Bukirwa Juliet. I am 27 years old and I am the mother of two daughters. My parents died when I was still very young and so I was sent to stay with my aunt in the village. My aunt had very many kids at the house and couldn't take care of all of us. Therefore, I was forced to drop out of school. A friend of mine took me to Kampala City, where I got work as a house maid at 14 years old. This is when I met the man who changed the course of my life.
I entered a relationship with him and he beat me and sexually abused me. He was so violent that I decided to leave him and go back to school. Then I discovered that I was pregnant. I was 15 years old. I stayed in the relationship for two more years and then gave my daughter to my mother-in- law, to keep her safe and away from the situation, with this man, that I still found myself in. I began to think more about leaving and talked to my aunt, who decided to help me leave and go back to school. I did that. I found a place to live and began my studies. I was determined to make my life better. But he found me. When I refused to go back to him, he beat me so badly that I pressed charges. But the police wanted money to process the complaint and I didn't have any money. Two days later he found me again.
This time, he poured acid on me while I was in bed. I thought it was a nightmare! As I rose, I slipped in the acid, burning my body. As I tried to scream, I swallowed the acid, burning my throat. I was on fire. I ran to the neighbors and they rushed me to the police station to make a statement and then I was rushed to the hospital in Mulago, where I stayed for over 6 months. The police never followed up on my case. My attacker fled and I started a new and painful life.
This bill is so important in order to help the new generation, especially young girls who are vulnerable to acid violence. I want to thank the RISE team, the End Acid Violence Uganda team, the University of Cincinnati, Uganda Christian University and the John Sentamu Institute, for all of the work they've put into drafting this bill. This comprehensive bill not only strengthens punishment for perpetrators of acid violence, but also works to protect and aid acid attack survivors on their road to recovery. As it stands now, there is a lack of proper legislation regarding acid attacks. RISE successfully helped to pass the Toxic Chemicals Prohibition Bill last year, which worked to restrict the sale and distribution of acid, but did not target acid violence as a whole.
The lack of a bill specifically geared toward acid violence has led to multiple injustices, in which perpetrators walk away without prison time, and survivors are left not only without justice but also with medical needs that they and their families are obligated to pay for. With our proposed bill, perpetrators, and anyone who abets in the attack, will be held accountable. In addition, perpetrators will be obligated to pay for the survivors’ medical needs. Research in other countries with high rates of acid violence, indicates that comprehensive legislation is the most effective way to reduce acid attacks.
I am kindly asking Parliament and H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to pass this bill and put in place tough laws on the sale and use of acid as a weapon of violence. Let there be harsher punishments for anyone who would use acid as a weapon to kill or disfigure others.
I am dreaming of a Uganda without acid violence, where women are not abused and where people remain free from the fear of such an attack against humanity. Please help me realize this dream. Sign our petition today!
For more information please visit risecoalition.org.
Special thanks to the John Sentamu Institute, Uganda.
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