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Sexual assault by police and soldiers in Uganda

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A shocking new video from Uganda shows Ingrid Turinawe, a prominent female politician, being sexually assaulted by the police. At the bottom of the piece, we have a comment from a Ugandan farmer who sees it slightly differently.

On April 20, Turinawe attended a rally in Uganda's capital. The video shows her in a car surrounded by riot police. As police try to pull her out of the car, an officer sexually assaults her by repeatedly squeezing her breast so hard she says it bled.

Ugandan filmmaker and activist Zubedah Nanfuka says this is not uncommon in her country. In fact, she's interviewed dozens of women sexually abused by soldiers who thought they would not be held accountable for their crimes because of their uniforms.

Zubedah has fought these abuses of power for years. But now that a high profile figure like Turinawe has been assaulted -- and it was caught on video -- she thinks global outcry can help show Ugandan officials that a uniform isn't a license for sexual assault.

Zubedah started a petition on calling on the Ugandan police to publicly apologize for Turinawe's assault and require anti-sexual assault training for all its officers.

At first, the Ugandan police denied that any officers had behaved inappropriately, or that a sexual assault had even taken place. But after the video of the assault went viral, causing a national outcry, the police suspended the officer involved.

Now, Zubedah thinks international pressure can create even more change in Uganda. Sexual assault by men in uniform has reached epidemic proportions in Uganda. But Zubedah has seen the impact popular outcry had on the police in the past few weeks.

The most important thing now, she says, is for individuals all around the world to help keep the spotlight on Turinawe's videotaped assault and the Ugandan government's response in order to tackle this issue at its core.

Ugandan women activists like Zubedah have been fighting hard to confront sexual violence perpetrated by men in uniform. A flood of supportive messages from around the world could push the police to make real policy changes -- and even impact the frequency and number of sexual assaults committed by other uniformed officers, like soldiers, in Uganda.

Click here to sign Zubedah's petition calling on the Ugandan police force to institute sexual assault prevention training nationwide, and to apologize for the assault of prominent female politician Ingrid Turinawe last month.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

- Shelby and the team

June 6th 2012: Since I published this, I have been sent this comment which presents a different picture of events from the standpoint of a Ugandan farmer:

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