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Rape & sexual assaults should be classified as offences against the person, not morality

 

Uganda retains a legal regime on sexual offences that is heavily influenced by Victorian morality, which mainly focuses on criminalising ‘immoral’ (albeit generally victimless) conduct. Thus, the laws of Uganda as they relate to sexual offences, particularly in the Penal Code Act (a June 1950 legislation), define all sexual offences in terms of decency, morality, modesty, etc.

The Penal Code Act, therefore, has an entire chapter dedicated, not to ‘sexual offences’, but to ‘offences against morality.’ It looks at the offences of rape, defilement, abduction (with sexual intent), elopement, indecent assaults, prostitution, ‘unnatural sexual acts’, among others.

Now, while this chapter is no doubt critical in the protection of vulnerable persons from sexual violence and such gross violations of their bodily integrity, these acts should not be considered offensive to ‘morality’ but, rather, to the specific individual affected. Morality, like culture, is a subjective, ever-growing and ever-evolving concept that is nebulous, untouchable, dynamic and sometimes even unknowable depending on the times and regions where it is sought to be enforced – which is simply untenable in a good law. Read more........