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16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM: AMPLIFYING THE VOICES OF LBT WOMEN

violnce16 days have been highlighted, running from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, to spearhead a campaign against gender based violence.

According to United Nations Women, this will be   a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991.

At Kuchu Times, we will within the days leading up to the International Human Rights day run a campaign highlighting the violence inflicted on Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transmen. We will republish stories from the past year, of LBT women that have been attacked, fired from their jobs, undergone corrective rape or undergone any form of violence be it physical, emotional or psychological.

During the 16 days, we will not only raise awareness about the prevalence and devastating impact of gender violence, but also celebrate victories gained by the Women’s Rights Movement, challenge policy and practice that allow women to be targeted for acts of violence and demand that violence against women be recognized as an abuse of human rights.

DIDI’S STORY as published in Bombastic Magazine

Diane after the attack
Diane after the attack

My name is Diane Bakuraira Sydney and I have come out to talk about the verbal and physical attacks towards LGBTI persons in Uganda. As a person who has grown up in a Christian family and gone to Christian schools, I feel awful that these kinds of injustices are happening.

Being from a humble background, one would normally not expect certain things to happen especially when dealing with peace, love, politeness; generally things that the Bible instructs us to uphold in order to live in a society that is well respected and for unity’s sake. The reason I chose this topic is because I recently experienced a very bad attack but I would rather share previous related experiences.

As an LGBTI person, I have endured both physical and verbal attacks from schoolmates, passers-by and the community in general. This leaves one with many mixed emotions but I have everything I could to brush it off and struggle with the emotional trauma silently. However, as one grows, they begin the journey of self-discovery, trying to learn and re-learn everything about them; they are also dealing with external forces of abuse of which all these factors create conflicts in their body, mind and soul.

It is therefore a common occurrence to find mechanisms of dealing with such issues especially if they are coming from one’s close friends and people that are actually supposed to be a support system.

 A quick example, I was a member of most rugby clubs in the different schools I attended. Like any normal person who loves sport, enjoys going out mixing and mingling with different people in the society, I was active in rugby gatherings but was seen as an outcast among friends and people within the scope of the sport that I loved.

I was verbally abused and ashamed; an emotional attack that never goes away.  I hid it as best as I could but emotionally, I was struggling. I never thought all these attacks would graduate to a physical level but how wrong I was. I have seen friends who have been beaten but never imagined it would be me.

I strongly address this because as much as one tries to hide their inner feelings and deal with physical assault in ‘their own way’, it is trauma that will never leave you. You could seek the assistance of professional counselors and therapists but even that will not take away the scars or memories such attacks leave behind.

I try to put up a front for my friends, family, workmates and close associates and most have bought the idea that I am coping well but the truth is I am struggling. Like most LGBTI individuals, I have mastered the art of putting uo a strong front but it is a very different story behind the scenes.

I know there are many people out there who might relate to this ordeal and understand the mental trauma. It opened my eyes to the need for centres that address such issues for minorities’ to be set up. People nee safe spaces where they can openly address the trauma inflicted on them and there is also an even more urgent need for people to stop hiding and create awareness within this community.

Take for instance a person being attacked and they stay away from work or even resort to leaving the country as a healing mechanism. Would this person be compared in any way to one who stays rooted and seeks help from within a group of people that have dealt with the same issue? Why should we run from our country because we are mentally traumatized, due to the physical or verbal attacks from the people in our society?

As an individual, I believe it is my duty to stand in the gap and try to bridge. I have taken it upon different friends that work in Police to try and find ways of how we can work a procedure in order to safe guard our environment, the homesteads we live in and even alternatives ways for easy authority access. We are now talking of setting up helplines where people can reach the authorities if they need help.

Once you are physically attacked, your mental health is dismantled and your thinking process is interrupted. You will pay more attention to every insult hurled your way and the beatings you have experienced will become a part of you; it is difficult for someone in this position to erase these memories or though train.

Most LGBTI persons don’t talk about these issues because we feel we are not supported and for the few who are, society will most times make it seem like it is the former’s fault. I have shard my story because I have had friends who have been in this position; fellow activists as well as family that do not understand exactly why I was attacked. I hope it also encourages other persons to share their ordeals and such efforts will see hate crimes become a thing of the past.

It is still hard to talk about the details of my attack as the wounds are still fresh. What I do know however is that violence has never solved a problem; if a person dresses different, smells different, looks different, or walks different, that does not give anyone the right to harm them physically or emotionally.

I therefore urge whoever reads my story to join the struggle and talk about these issues because it is not only affecting LGBTI persons but also cuts across to anyone that is any way different. This explains the never ending bullying in schools.

I share with you two sets of pictures and hopefully they will paint the bigger picture of how intense and traumatizing hate attacks can be. The scars remain not only on the face but also in my mind and soul; the healing process is a journey and I will conquer mine.

 


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