Ugandan women stage ‘bra protest’ against police violence
Women in Uganda stripped to their bras in protest against police violence following the sexual assault of a politician.
The bra protest was held in Kampala after a policeman was filmed squeezing the breasts of of Ingrid Turinawe, the head of the Women’s League of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) during her arrest ahead of a rally last Friday.
She is one of the leaders of the Activists for Change (A4C), a pressure group that spearheaded Walk to Work protests that took place across Uganda for much of 2011.
A group of about 15 women marched to the city’s main police station after NTV Uganda showed Turinawe shouting out in pain as an officer grabbed and repeatedly squeezed her breast as she is pulled from a vehicle.
Wearing only their bras they waved placards including one that asked “How would you feel if we squeezed your balls?”
Six of the women were arrested but released shortly afterwards. The protest, discussed on Twitter using the hashtag #braprotest and #StopUgandaPolice highlighted concerns over police accountability as President Yoweri Museveni continues his crackdown on opponents since his controversial re-election in 2011.
Journalist Rosebell Kagumire wrote about growing concerns about police treatment of women and criticised them for their silence, provoking police to respond on Twitter that an investigation was “underway”.
No police have been held accountable following the arrest of another politician Nabilah Sempala in 2008 when police were seen lifting her skirt, Kagumire writes.
In another case, a senior police officer was demoted following the brutal arrest of another woman Annet Namudu in February last year.
The bra protests follow demonstrations in the Amuru District where 60 women stripped naked before officials from one of the country’s largest developers, the Madhvani Group, to voice their concerns in a land dispute.
Naked protests have been staged by women in Niger Delta and in Liberia peace protesters used threats of removing their clothes to force leaders to end the civil war.
In the Ukraine, the protest group Femen have adopted similar tactics to draw attention to a range of issues including sexual violence and abortion rights, inspiring similar protests worldwide.