Here’s the ‘other’ news from Uganda this week. Dateline: Kampala: “Police have warned the public against undressing women whom they perceive to be indecently dressed, saying the Anti-Pornography law is not operational yet.” Yet.

Ever since Simon Lokodo, State Minister for Ethics and Integrity and lead proponent for a ban on miniskirts (that’s him above), announced that the Anti-Pornography Bill had been signed into law, women have faced violence, especially in taxi ranks. According to Lokodo, “If your miniskirt falls within the ambit of this definition then I am afraid you will be caught up by the law.”

Except that, despite Lokodo’s most fervent efforts, the miniskirt ban actually never made it into the final legislation. Women across Uganda shut it down. From #SaveTheMiniSkirt online campaigns to Save the Miniskirt parties to formal lobbying to organizing in the streets and off, women shut it down. Women understood that the issue of their clothing was nothing more or less than an attack on women’s autonomy. For Rita Aciro Lakor, the executive director of Uganda Women’s Network (Uwonet), “It’s about going back to controlling women. They’ll start with clothes. The next time they’re going to remove the little provisions in the law that promote and protect women’s rights.”

Control. Protection. These are familiar terms to women who have struggled against the State’s attempt to rein them in, from New York to Jakarta to Kampala and beyond. The discreteness of the discourse serves to cover up the heart and soul of the operation, which is violence and terror, all in the name of protecting women.

So here is the reality of the Anti-Pornography Law 2014. There is no ban on miniskirts. Yet women university students are raped and murdered. Yet women across the country are brutally assaulted in public by crowds of men, stripped, sometimes naked, and then further assaulted. And a nation, and a world, asking, “Why are Ugandans killing, undressing” their daughters and sisters? And the police warn the law is not operational yet.


Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.

Resistance is a continuous endeavor

For more than 75 years, Palestinians have organized for a liberated future. Today, as resistance against Israeli apartheid intensifies, unity and revolutionary optimism has become the main infrastructure of struggle.

Paradise forgotten

While there is much to mourn about the passing of legendary American singer and actor Harry Belafonte, we should hold a place for his bold statement-album against apartheid South Africa.