APC Kirumira should answer for abuses against sex workers

Women’s Organisation Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA) have said that ASP Muhammad Kirumira, who was transferred from Old Kampala Police Station to Buyende in September 2016, should answer for the crimes he committed against sex workers.

On September 14, 2016, the cruel Kirumira who degraded sex workers and abused their rights was transferred to Buyende districts in the Busoga region.

“Kirumira was transferred but as WONETHA we do not agree that because he was transferred, our cases collapse,” Daisy Nakato, the executive director WONETHA said. “When someone commits abuses like that, they need to face the law.”

“When we went to the Police Standards Unit and the other actions we took, we were not simply interested in getting Kirumira transferred, we wanted him to face the music for the abuses he committed against sex workers. We want to know, when is he going to face the law?, we want justice.”

During his time as the Division Police Commander for Old Kampala, Kirumira arrested sex workers arbitrarily in the Old Kampala area of Kakajjo-Bukesa without respecting their rights yet there was a standing order from the Inspector General of Police not to arrest sex workers but sensitize them through community policing.

During the time he was DPC of Old Kampala, over 100 sex workers were arrested in the Old Kampala area and taken to Mwanga II court without going through the formal charge processes.

Kirumira would write the statements himself and sending the accused straight to court yet formally, the accused should be interviewed for their statements with the help of the Police, before they are taken to court.

Over that period, Kirumira tortured and abused sex workers’ rights. A case in point was when he inserted a baton in a woman’s private parts while others have scars and marks on their bodies from the abuse.

Whenever he would arrests sex workers, he would not give them an opportunity to communicate to their friends or family for help or WONETHA, an NGO that fights for the rights of adult sex workers.

The arrests continued to go on despite an order that was made in November 2014 by the Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura to lower Police officials to stop arresting sex workers.

To get Kirumira transferred, WONETHA reported a case through the Police Standards Unit about Kirumira’s abuses, engaged a social media campaign to get Kirumira to change the way he treated sex workers as well as sensitization of sex workers about his ways.

Even before he was transferred, Kirumira continued to physically violate the bodies of sex workers in the area under his command.

DPC Kirumira also abused the rights of sex workers. Whenever he arrested them, he did not allow them to get either Police bond, bail or sureties to stand for them in court.

All of this was despite the fact that in November 2014, Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura ordered Police to stop arresting sex workers. Kayihura said the order to stop arrests of sex workers came from President Yoweri Museveni.

Kayihura recommended that Police officers like Kirumira of Old Kampala should instead work with sex workers through the Community Policing unit to help in fighting crime.

However this order from the highest office in the land seems to have been undermined by lower ranking Police officers.

APC Muhammad Kirumira formerly the DPC Old K ampala  police station

APC Muhammad Kirumira formerly the DPC Old K ampala police station

UGANDA SEX WORKERS DEMAND FREE AND QUALITY CONDOMS

WONETHA staff demonstratin proper condom dressing

WONETHA staff demonstrating proper condom dressing

Ugandan sex workers have insisted that they prefer the Government continue to distribute free condoms.

Women’s Organisation Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA), an organisation that was founded, managed and led by sex workers in 5 districts of Uganda have said that as promoters of condom use, availability of free condoms is one way of fighting HIV/AIDS.

“Condoms should be available free of charge like drugs. A man cannot give you Ush1000 especially law income earner and you chase them away or use some of that money to buy a condom. You cannot tell him to buy a condom either!,”  If we are looking forward to ending AIDS we MUST provide free quality condoms to those who need them. Daisy Nakaato, the executive director WONETHA said.

These revelations were made during the Condom Communication Coordination meeting that was held at Protea Hotel recently. During the meeting, some partners raised a complaint on why Ugandans don`t use condoms.

Feedback from the Condom Unit in the Ministry of Health suggests that Ugandans prefer that they improve the quality of the condoms that are distributed free of charge.

As a result, people have rejected the poor quality condoms that the Government distributes for free.

The Condom Unit however says improving the quality of the free condoms would have a cost implication.

Some partners in the fight against HIV however prefer that the quality be improved but at a small cost to the user.

After the previous meeting on condom communication coordination which was held at Ministry of Health, challenges like condoms bursting, unavailability of condoms in some places and condoms not reaching the end users.

After this meeting, it was agreed that another meeting where implementing partners share how the y do outreaches on condom promotion and the challenges they get.

Some partners like Mariestopes Uganda, Pace, Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG) and the National Condom Coordinator advised that it is better to promote condom buying than giving them out freely because Ugandans think that free condoms are of poor quality.

The partners say they have consulted with different people willing to buy condoms.

The purpose of the meeting was to develop and agree on condom promotion in Uganda in collaboration with ministry of health and partners in behavioral communication change.

WONETHA promotes and encourage safer sex practices among sex workers most especially among those in slums areas who cannot afford to buy condoms.

WONETHA has called on the Government of Uganda partners to support us advocate for condoms which are free, affordable, and accessible and of good quality to end new HIV infections and transmission.

Teenage girls join sex work in Mukono

Teenage Girls from Mukono’s landing sites are joining sex work largely driven into the practice by poverty.

The underage girls have been influenced into the practice by poverty whereby parents use them as a source of generating incomes for their homes.

Most of the girls come to the landing sites to work as bar maids, house maids but the pay is not enough or they are not paid at all, which leads them into this sexual exploitation. The affected landing sites are Kalyambuzi, Damba and Kisonga.

A health worker from Mukono Dispensary made the revelation at a health stakeholders’ meeting that was held at the Mukono district headquarters.

33 participants attended the meeting including a representative from the DHO’s office, District HIV focal person, Health providers from different health centers, in-charges from different facilities within Mukono and MARPI representative.

Other participants who attended included WONETHA staff, peer educators lodge owners from Mukono and Local Council leaders.

The problem of underage sex workers worries health workers because these girls cannot negotiate for safer sex.

The health workers have urged WONETHA to find ways of helping the underage sex workers in Mukono by reaching out to them and finding organizations that can be of support the young girls until they become of age.

Health workers also promised to organize HIV Counseling and Testing services for all the landing sites in Mukono district.

WONETHA operates in five districts of Uganda namely; Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Buikwe and Mpigi and among its programs; one of the is organizing meetings with health stakeholders at the district level to improve the quality and access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for sex workers.

WONETHA calls upon Government and other partners to put in place policy and other programs that will help prevent underage girls from joining sex work.

13 sex workers sentenced to community service

Thirteen sex workers have pleaded guilty in court on charges of being rogue and vagabond.
The women were arrested and charged last month in Mwanga II Magistrates court.
They were arrested by the District Police Commander of Old Kampala, Mohammed Kirumira, from their brothel in Kisenyi, Kampala.
They were sentenced to Community Service and told not to repeat the offence or be re-arrested on the same charge of being rogue and vagabond. They were then released.
When they were arrested three weeks ago, the magistrate sent them to Luzira prison on remand.
The suspects were advised by a lawyer from Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and a paralegal from WONETHA to plead guilty not to complicate things.
In Uganda, sex workers are arrested on charges of being idle and disorderly, but the charge changes to being a rogue and vagabond for those who have been arrested more than once.
In November 2014, Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura ordered Police to stop arresting sex workers. Kayihura said the order to stop arrests of sex workers came from President Yoweri Museveni.
Kayihura recommended that Police officers like Kirumira of Old Kampala should instead work with sex workers through the Community Policing unit to help in fighting crime.
However this order from the highest office in the land seems to have been undermined by lower ranking Police officers. The Police should stop arresting sex workers because indeed there is a standing order from His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni.

The law enforcement officer is now the offender

Two of the victims stand outside police standards unit offices after reporting the case Mohammed Kirumira, the District Police Commander Old Kampala has continued to undermine an order that came down from the Inspector of Police, General Kayihura stopping the arrest of sex workers in Uganda. Since Kirumira was transferred to Old Kampala Police station, he has arrested more than 50 sex workers from the areas of Kisenyi, Bukesa-Kakajjo, Bakuli, Nankulabye, and Mabiito-Natete in total disregard of the standing order that came from President Yoweri Museveni in November 2014. In Uganda, sex workers are arrested on charges of being idle and disorderly, but the charge changes to being a rogue and vagabond for those who have been arrested more than once. In November 2014, Inspector General of Police, General Kayihura ordered Police to stop arresting sex workers. Kayihura said the order to stop arrests of sex workers came from President Yoweri Museveni. Kayihura recommended that Police officers like Kirumira of Old Kampala should instead work with sex workers through the Community Policing unit to help in fighting crime. However this order from the highest office in the land seems to have been undermined by lower ranking Police officers. On July 20, 2016, DPC Kirumira arrested six sex workers accusing them of having connections with the thieves. In June, thirteen other women were arrested and sent to remand in Luzira. Another 8 women were arrested and tortured by Police officers from Old Kampala using blunt instruments. Kirumira physically went to the brothels and forced the doors open by kicking them inside and he seriously beat up sex workers, inserted a baton in the vigina of one of the sex workers. When the women in question were taken to Police, they were rushed through the process and taken to court without the option of a Police bond, bail or sureties to represent them in court. This is not the first time Kirumira has done this. He did the same thing in 2012 when he was the Officer in Charge (OC) of Nakulabye Police Station. At the time, he assaulted sex workers – an action that resulted into a miscarriage by one of the victims. WONETHA with the support of the lawyers from Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) reported the matter to the Police Standards Unit and then he was transferred to another police station. From there he was promoted to the big position of DPC at old Kampala police station. If the head is violating the rights of the people he is meant to protect, what will his junior do?He goes beyond simply abusing the rights of sex workers by physically assaulting them. He takes them to the court without giving them an opportunity to call their lawyers to defend them and follows them to the court to ensure that they are charged and imprisoned – something that is outside his job. This is totally unacceptable and WONETHA calls on Police to treat sex workers like any other citizen of Uganda and we urge the Inspector general of Police (IGP) to intervene in this matter. We demand the decriminalization of sex work to end such violation.