At the time Ugandans have been shaken awake as never before to the ugly reality of violence against women by the gruesome murder of Senior Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi which occurred on Monday evening. According to a statement released by the ministry of information and national guidance, Kagezi was trailed and shot to death while her two young children watched. Ironically the statement goes on to say that the children were unharmed.
I say it is ironic because witnessing your mother killed in cold blood and watching her killers disappear like those children did, is simply the most devastating tragedy one can ever suffer. Put yourself in those children’s shoes for a minute; were they excitedly making family Easter plans with their only surviving parent? Probably one of them had flu and being the pragmatic woman she was, she decided to buy the vitamin C loaded oranges to fight back? How do you ever get over that? Everyone responds differently to terror. Like adults, some children are naturally resilient. Others can suffer scars that, untreated, last well into adulthood. Among the repercussions most commonly endured by children exposed to violence are: post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, attachment issues, difficulty concentrating, sleep disorders, suicidal thoughts, alcohol and substance abuse and delinquent behavior. So no, those children were not unharmed; they have been deeply wounded and need professional help to heal.
All women and girls have a right to live free of violence and Kagezi‘s murder shouldn’t be in vain. Violence against women is neither inevitable nor acceptable; it is crippling this nation and needs to end. Men and women across the country need to speak up loud and clear that we can’t and won’t stand for this abhorrent behavior any longer. We are tired of watching our women die for financial, political or any other reasons. We are tired of watching our women being used as collateral damage. We are tired of seeing maniacs play dice with our lives. While it’s everyone’s responsibility to speak up for those who don’t have a voice, I call upon our brothers, fathers and sons to stand up and defend the mothers of this nation.
To echo activist Jackson Katz, we need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them to end violence and senseless deaths.
I didn’t know Kagezi, but in death she looms larger than life. She worked for hours, days, even years, often non-stop, pouring her sweat and heart into what they felt needed to be done and now it is our turn to bring her killers to justice.
We mourn with Kagezi’s family and pay tribute to all those other women who have come and gone, those whose voices were silenced mid-sentence and breath violently snatched out of their lungs. May you find justice and may the good Lord reward you for your works.
Rest in peace dear mothers, sisters, aunties, and grandmothers.