Jackline, Sharon and Zaharah are campaigning to make their city safe for girls. They are calling on the Kampala Capital City Authority to step up efforts to rid Kampala of all forms of violence and harassment – and we’re backing them.
Kampala, the capital of Uganda, is one of the fastest growing cities on earth. While this creates huge new opportunities for girls, it also means staggering levels of violence and harassment in the city.
Jackline, Sharon and Zaharah are part of Plan International’s Safer Cities program in Kampala, which has already had success working with local authorities, police and boda boda (motorcycle taxi) drivers to address threats to girls’ safety in the city. Now they want to take their work to the next level by advocating to the Kampala Capital City Authority led by the Director, Ms Jennifer Musisi.
It’s time the Kampala Capital City Authority acts to make the city a place where everyone can succeed.
Jackline, Sharon and Zaharah are all members of Plan International’s Safer Cities program. The program works with girls to provide them with the training and resources they need to advocate for change and to make sure that girls’ voices are heard by powerful people. Together, these girls are taking back their city.
I have a friend who was passing near a place where boys were sitting. This boy who came and told her, I love you. She was like I don't love you. The boy said, okay. It's okay. You'll see tomorrow when you pass here.
The next day she was passing she found like the boys waiting for her, they came grabbed her, beat her up then they were like you should never say no to our friend whenever he says he loves you.
They were like, you have to give him a kiss for you to survive if you refuse we beat you again. She had to give the boy a kiss and then walk away.
“I want sexual harassment to end. I want girls to feel safe in their community and I want girls to stop being silent about what happens to them”
“I don’t feel safe in my neighbourhood because girls are seen as sex objects, considered weak and always less valued compared to the boys.”
I want to be a role model in my community. I am the chairperson of the safer cities club in my area. At times I act like a counsellor to my fellow girls with an aim of preventing child mothers because I experienced being one already and I suffered a lot.
“One day I was going to the market then a boda boda man said that you small young girl, come and I’ll take you. He did this in a suggestive way and I looked at him wondering why he could say such a thing when I wasn’t interested.”
If I am given a chance to change my community I will work on my village to put street lights, clean on trenches to avoid floods, stop unplanned houses and teach my fellow girls on the advantage of being a girl. If we do not have safety in our community, it leads to early pregnancies and it leads to drop out of school.
It’s not hard to see why - robbery, rape and harassment are common.
Reported crime is increasing with 1,099 cases of rape investigated in 2014 compared to 1,042 cases in 2013, an increase of 5.4%.2
While the Kampala Capital City Authority have made some progress in naming streets, there are many that still don’t have names, especially in the outskirts of the city, which makes it difficult for police to respond when things go wrong. This coupled with the lack of street lighting and empty, unfinished buildings make girls vulnerable to violence especially at night.
Jackline, Sharon and Zaharah want to show the Capital City Authority how many people support their campaign to get better street lighting, demolish unsafe, unfinished buildings, have all streets named,and to make sure that everyone in the community understands the impact of violence and harassment on girls in Kampala.
1. Plan International and UN Habitat report: Adolescent Girls’ Views on Safety in Cities 2013
2. Uganda Bureau of Statistics: Statistical Abstract 2016