National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD-U) with support from the British High Commission (BHC) conducted an in house training for Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) of the Lango Female Clan Leaders Association from 23rd-25th August , 2016 at Garden Hotel in Lira district, in Northern Uganda. The main objective of the training was to enhance knowledge and skills to manage personal &organizational security. The space also provided a platform for participants to appreciate the key human rights issues that affect LGBTI HRDs as presented through a session that was facilitated by one LGBTI HRDs. The event was attended by 15 staff& members of LFCLA
The sessions on security management had topics that enabled participants understand keys concepts including; (1) security- refers freedom from harm which arise from violence or other intentional acts,(2) vulnerability- degree of exposure to harm, (3) threat –anything that communicates forthwith danger, (4) risk-the likelihood of encountering harm, (5) safety – freedom from harm which may arise from natural occurrences (6) Aggression- violent behavior or attitude towards another person with readiness to attack or confront, (7) security incidents –event/action is likely to cause to an individual or organization. The training enabled participants to outline some examples of security incidents when they mentioned the following;
1. Telephone text message- someone sends you a message I know where you stay
2. Some leaves a hand bag un attended to-it could containing a bullet or surveillance gadget
3. Some one call you –When you pick up the phone the is silent
4. Someone parks a car and leaves it in the compound –You are not bothered
5. Office breaks- you cannot know the motive
6. Someone comes to office asks for ED- As a receptionist you ask the person to stay and as they stay they could be spies, looking at the locks of the doors or noting passwords for computers.
WHRDs presented their experiences of the threats they have faced during the course of their work. They reported that because as women they have spoken out, denouncing gender inequality and non discrimination, and seeking justice, they have faced numerous attacks , harassments, black mailed and accused of misleading women &girls, and distorting traditional cultures. While giving her experience, one participant stated;
“ A group of men raped women because they were sex workers in Lira town and some community members justified the actions of the rapists, I felt bad and I decided to use one of the radio stations to condemn the actions and called upon authorities to bring the suspects to book- As a result of me speaking out. my church excommunicated me and I was labeled by the community for promoting immorality in our community “
Additionally, WHRDs also viewed the lack of recognition for their contribution in the community in terms of promoting human rights and community development, as a threat. WHRDS were concerned that some sections of the public does not value their contribution. For instance another participant revealed that;
“ The Chiefs went on radio accusing me for eating their money& went to Action Aid International to cancel the agreement not knowing that we are women working for the good of our community.”
Plenary discussions raised critical issues on the need for NCHRDU to conduct research about protection needs for WHRDs to inform urgent responses for WHRDs at risk, NCHRDU to conduct digital training workshops for WHRD, joint advocacy on violations against HRDs and popularize NCHRD-U throughout the country. Participants appreciated NCHRDU for training them in security management, and deepening their understanding the HRD concept, the plight of LGBTI HRDs as well as haring the 24 hr help lines (0778576865,0778576852, 0778576853) and are looking forward to working with NCHRDU and engaging further on the promotion of the protection of HRDs and popularize NCHRDU’S 24 help lines to more HRDs in Lango sub region.