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Human Rights in Uganda

Kristy Morgan: Women's Rights

Kristy Morgan
Kristy Morgan, left, researched women's rights in Uganda.

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Contact: Rob Seal

Women in Uganda have very limited right to land, wield little economic power, and are often unable to assert much authority in their own marriages, according to second-year law student Kristy Morgan.

Under current Ugandan law, domestic violence cases are handled in the criminal system, according to Morgan, who researched women’s issues while in Uganda.

However, police typically don’t view domestic violence as a serious crime, and offenders are rarely prosecuted unless they actually kill someone, she said.

“A lot of times, husbands pay bribes to the police stations,” Morgan said.

For the past four years, the government has been trying to pass a domestic relations bill, but has run into opposition.

The Muslim community in Uganda, a small but powerful part of the population, strongly resists such measures because it is already governed by its own family courts, she said. There is also wider cultural resistance to women having co-ownership of property.

The bill would likely only pass “if they strip the law of everything that basically would give women equal rights under the law,” Morgan said.

But the situation is not totally bleak for battered Ugandan women. One proposal that seems to have a hope of being enacted would allow women to bring civil cases against their husbands in a local court, Morgan said.