Uganda's Makerere University: 'My lecturer tried to rape me'

From BBC - March 13, 2018

When she made it into one of Africa's most prestigious universities, the future looked bright for Monica. But an attempted rape by a member of staff has left that future lying in pieces.

As Monica recalls her story, her voice starts to crack.

She describes how the assailant tricked her into going to his home.

After swapping courses at Makerere University in Uganda's capital Kampala, Monica - not her real name - was determined to catch up with her new subject.

"A lecturer told me that he would help me with class work. I called him and requested an appointment on Monday before class. He insisted I meet him on Sunday," she recalls.

The prospect of private tuition more than made up for the disruption to her weekend.

Spine-chilling experience

But at the appointed time, he was not at the agreed location.

"I walked there, only for him to say I was late and he had left, and that I should meet him somewhere else. When he eventually arrived, he asked me to follow him," she says.

"That is how he tricked me into going to his place of residence."


"The officials at my college, instead of helping me, they kept harassing me, insulting me, and calling me names. They called me stupid"

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Telling her story means reliving the spine-chilling experience. She takes a moment to wipe tears from her reddening eyes, as she recalls what happened next.

"I expected that we would get down to my class work. Instead, he attempted to rape me."

She does not want to give details of the attack, but describes how she fought back - putting into practice some long-forgotten Girl Guide training.

"I had been trained that if a man attempts to rape you, you have to calm down, be submissive, then raise your leg and kick them where it hurts hardest. And that is what I did," she says, sighing deeply, as if she has only just emerged from the nightmarish encounter.

She also managed to snap pictures of him in his room, aware that the evidence could be vital.

'No-one believes you'

Though confused and blaming herself for falling into his trap, Monica decided she was not going to wallow in self-pity.

Despite constant intimidation from the lecturer, she reported the attack to her college - but received no help.

She also began talking to classmates and other women on her computer science course. She heard stories from several others of similar encounters with the same man.

At least one of them said she had been raped.

"Most girls will not report this because no-one believes them," Monica says. Everyone thinks you got yourself into it."

As she speaks with bursts of intense anger, her face becomes tense and her words get caught in her throat.

Lacking support from her college, she no longer felt able to attend lectures, and fell behind in her studies.

But she pursued her case, writing to the vice-chancellor, the institution's top administrator. A university senate committee was formed to investigate her case.

"[They] demanded that I prove there was an environment of sexual harassment. I had to bring to them evidence that I was harassed by this lecturer.

"I had taken pictures. I presented that to them. I spoke to them about my experience.

"And at one point, I asked that if they doubted what I was telling them, I needed to face it off with the lecturer before the committee - which was never granted."

'They called me stupid'

The university policy on sexual harassment says that such cases should be investigated and disposed of within three months. But it took nearly seven months for her to receive a response from the committee.

In the meantime, because she had fallen behind, Monica was told she would have to leave the course.

"The officials at my college, instead of helping me, they kept harassing me, insulting me, and calling me names.

'Major discontentment'


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