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Uganda minister orders arrest of Dr Stella Nyanzi, lecturer who stripped in public

COUNTIES
By Rawlings Otieno and Agencies | April 19th 2016
Dr Stella Nyanzi. Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity State Minister Simon Lokodo has ordered police to arrest controversial Makerere University lecturer for stripping in public. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity State Minister Simon Lokodo has ordered police to arrest controversial Makerere University lecturer Stella Nyanzi for stripping in public.

According to Uganda’s New Vision, Lokodo said the lecturer went overboard.

“Even if she was offended by anybody, she behaved indecently. I condemn it in the strongest words possible and have directed police to arrest her. She must be brought to book,” said the minister.

Under Uganda’s laws, Dr Nyanzi will be charged under the Anti-Pornography Act and if found guilty, she will get a two-year jail sentence or a fine of 500 currency points, or both.

Nyanzi is a medical anthropologist with a PhD from the University of London based on ethnographic fieldwork of youth sexualities, sexual and reproductive health.

Rights abuse

Nyanzi stripped to protest being denied access to her office at the Institute for Social Research (MISR).

The Institute’s Executive Director Mahmood Mamdani maintained that Nyanzi can only stay in office if she teaches at the facility as promised.

According to reports from Ugandan media, the lecturer removed her dress and bra, exposing her nudity to the full glare of the public.

“My clothes are on the floor. I want my office. You have locked me out with one padlock. Mamdani, I want my office,” charged Nyanzi after removing her clothes.

According to reports by Uganda’s Daily Monitor, Nyanzi was later allowed to access her office after she undressed and took pictures and a video clip of herself, which she then posted on her Facebook wall, to protest the decision to lock her out of her office.

Daily Monitor went on to report that the institute had locked the office three days ago because Nyanzi had reportedly refused to teach MISR’s doctor of philosophy (PhD) students yet she had in 2012 committed to teach them. Nyanzi, however, said on Facebook, her contract did not include teaching.

She instead accused Prof Mamdani of blatantly abusing her labour rights. Nyanzi has 14 years of social science research experience in Uganda in the broad areas of heterosexual behaviour in the time of HIV/Aids, adolescent sexual behaviour and female control of sexuality.

She also has experience in transforming masculinities during the AIDS epidemic, gender differentiation of reproductive health, alternative healing and transforming performances of death, disposal and widowhood.

Her current research at MISR comprises ethnographic inquiry into the politicisation of homo-sexualities in contemporary Uganda - with a focus on unpacking mainstream religious framing of and contestations about sexual citizenship.

Nyanzi is also conducting research about the vulnerability and resilience of young refugees and internally displaced women in Uganda towards HIV/AIDS.

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