What Rape Means in Uganda. Unimaginable


There is a time in Uganda when beauty salons are very busy and demand is increasing, especially in a small town in Arua district in northern Uganda. For Irene Asibazuyo, 16, this increase in business means she will earn a little more money.

Unlike other girls her age, Irene is a hairdresser who braids clients’ hair instead of going to school. She used to be enrolled in primary school and enjoyed studying math, social studies and English. But her childhood ended abruptly when she was raped while visiting her uncle in South Sudan. The man who raped her later disappeared.

“In my culture, when a man rapes a girl, he must take her as his wife, otherwise the girl’s family risks being cursed or struck by bad luck,” explains Irene.

Irene faced a dilemma: “I couldn’t go back home because I knew I would be ridiculed by my classmates and even by my own parents. So I went to the man’s house. I explained what had happened to his parents, who advised me to stay. Since he had raped me, I knew that no man would ever take me as his wife.”

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