Uganda: Two trans women brutally attacked; one is missing

Transgender women in Uganda are living in fear after a brutal attack on two trans women Oct. 12 in Kampala, which came amid renewed calls by some of the country’s leaders for a new Anti-Homosexuality Bill. One of the women is missing.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

Photos show Zari's bruises (center) and her earlier appearance, with makeup (left and right)

Photos show Zari’s bruises (center) and her earlier appearance, with makeup (left and right)


By Kikonyogo Kivumbi

One of the trans women, known to the LGBT community as Nash, has been missing since the attack. Family members and friends have tried looking for her but to no avail as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Another trans woman, Zari, also was badly beaten in the incident, which occurred in the Namasuba area, about 6 kilometres from Kampala City Center along the Kampala-Entebbe International Airport road.

Zari told Erasing 76 Crimes in Kampala that she has severe chest pains, bruises and sometimes coughs up blood.

After the beating, concerned passersby took her, unconscious, to a nearby clinic. She narrated that men wearing hood masks beat the two women for reasons they do not know. She had to leave hospital after a day to stay with a friend, Phillip, another trans woman, because she could not afford the hospital bills.

However, she had to leave after Philip’s father returned home. Now she is moving from friend to friend as she slowly recuperates. Her family abandoned her after they learned that she is trans and a member of the Ugandan LGBT community.

Two police cases for assault by unknown persons and disappearance/missing person have been lodged at Namasuba police post (case reference SDREF18/13/10/2019 and S). But police are reluctant to investigate, claiming they lack fuel for their vehicles, although the police station is only about 300 metres from the scene of the attack.

Babu Ramathan, the executive director of Campus Liberty Uganda and a community paralegal officer attached to the Human Rights and Promotion Forum, told Erasing 76 Crimes Tuesday in Kampala that he is beginning to fear for the worst for the missing Nash.

Cases of abduction for ransom, murder and related crimes are rife in Kampala. Last year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni outlined a 7 point security plan that has failed to curb insecurity.

Last year more than 50 women were murdered in Kampala and surrounding areas by unknown people. This led to a large women’s protest and a petition to Ugandan parliament seeking improved security and an end to the murders. But the murders and kidnappings for ransom have persisted.

Diane Bakuruira, an LGBT activist with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), joins other women in a protest march last year through Kampala city to protest women's murders. The killings and kidnappings continue. (UhspaUganda photo)

Diane Bakuruira, an LGBT activist with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), joins other women in a protest march last year through Kampala city to protest women’s murders. The killings and kidnappings continue. (UhspaUganda photo)

Appeal for assistance

Babu said that he appeals to whoever can help with medical bills and evacuation of Nash to help.

The Oct. 12 attack came eight days after the murder on Oct. 4 of Brian Wasswa, a young LGBT paralegal professional. A respected member of the LGBT community, he was found struggling for his life after he was brutally hacked in the head with a gardening hoe in his home in Jinja, about an hour’s drive from Kampala City.

His attacker(s) left him to bleed to death from 10 deep cuts. Neighbors called for help and he was then rushed to Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, and later died.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, which come at a time when anti-gay officials are seeking to introduce a new anti-homosexuality bill in the Ugandan parliament that would provide the death penalty for homosexuality.

Human Rights Watch, among other human rights observers have called for a thorough investigation by Ugandan authorities into the murder of Brian Wasswa in a press statement issued today in Kampala

Kikonyogo Kivumbi, the author of this article, is the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association.

This article was corrected Oct. 15 to indicate that Zari was hospitalized and Nash is missing, as reported by Babu Ramathan.