Ugandan pop star Jemimah Kansiime has become the first person to be prosecuted under the East African nation’s strict anti-pornography laws.
Kansiime – who performs as Panadol wa Basajja (‘Medicine For Men’) – will face trial later this month defending charges of obscenity for the music video to her single Ensolo Yange. Kansiime dances provocatively, bumps and grinds in a bikini and soaps her body up while grabbing it throughout the video. Viewers may have trouble wondering what the fuss is given the hyper-sexualized music videos from the likes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Lady GaGa and Beyonce that have been broadcast for years without a murmur.
Kinsiime was originally arrested in November after Uganda’s ethics minister Simon Lokodo found and reported her video. No doubt he had to watch it all the way through a number of times *just be sure* before passing it on to his superiors who also had to make sure for themselves. After being jailed for five weeks, Kinsiime was bailed and her trial is imminent.
Kinsiime’s manager was also arrested but copped a guilty plea and was fined 200,000 Ugandan shillings ($66). The singer denied her guilt and wanted her day in court. “My rights have been trampled upon, my freedom of expression has been trampled upon,” she said at her home in Kampala. If found guilty Kinsiime faces up to 10 years in prison.
Simon Lodoka has been very thorough in trying to apply his draconian laws across Uganda. After ordering the arrest of any man who solicits a prostitute, Lodoka has sought to demean Ugandan women for their various states of dress and also attacked a female colleague after claiming her skirt was too short.
The effects of Lokodo’s laws and actions are having a devestating impact on the social fabric of Uganda. Reports of women being attacked and stripped on the street are common and a large number of Ugandan women believe the law is nothing but an attack on their gender.
Uganda and human rights are not concepts that go hand-in-hand with each other. The world watched as they passed an horrific Anti-Homosexuality Bill in December 2013, an original draft of which proposed the death penalty for those found to be living homosexual lifestyles.