Reviews & Profiles
what it means to hack my co-wife to death
Posted Wednesday, January 1 2014 at 02:00
Florence fell in love at 14 but had no idea about the dark place that this relationship would leave her in.
I am Florence Nagudi (not real name), the last born in a family of five. I started dating Roger at 14, something that seemed normal as all my friends and peers had boyfriends.
After dating for a year, Roger impregnated me. It was then that I found out he was already married. When his wife found out about my son, she started tormenting me.
One fateful day, a month after giving birth, my “co-wife” attacked me while I was doing laundry at a well. She first started by abusing me and calling me names like Malaya and many other bad things.
The turning point
I ignored her until she started beating me. I lost my cool and fought back. Because she was older and stronger than me, she thoroughly beat me and out of rage, I picked a panga (machete) that was near me and with one blow, I hit her on the neck and as she fell down, I took to my heels.
A few days later, the police came knocking at a house I was staying in with my parents and arrested me for murder. I was taken to Maluku prisons in Mbale where I was remanded as my case was being heard at the family and children’s court in Mbale. Although I pleaded that the deceased provoked me and I merely acted in self-defence, I was found guilty and sentenced to three yearsin jail.
With my then two-month old baby, we were transferred to the National Children Rehabilitation Centre in Kampiringisa. I did not know what to expect of where l was being taken because I had never travelled out of Mbale, my home district. We got to Kampiringisa late in the evening and l started my new life at this facility.
Life is fair although I miss my family a lot. No one has ever come to see me for the eight months I have spent here, not even Rogers, the father of my child, I miss my mother so much.
We are given enough food to eat but the main problem here is that we do not get clothes and I don’t have money for buying any. My son has a few clothes and most times, I share with him my blouses which are too big to fit him. I am glad that I get a cup of milk every day for him.
I did not intend to harm that lady. First and foremost, I did not know she existed and when l found out, I tried as much as I could to avoid her but she kept on following me and abusing me. When she physically attacked me, I had to defend myself. It’s very unfortunate that she died. I’m really sorry for what happened. I pray her relatives and my parents can forgive me. I even fear returning home because the entire village knows what happened. I always wonder where l will turn to when I am finally released from here.
However, I plan to go back to school after serving my term, and start from P.6 where I stopped. I will study very hard and become a lawyer so that I can fight for the rights of children especially girls.
I should have sat for my Primary Leaving Exams this year in the school here at Kampiringisa but I was stopped from attending class because there was no one to look after my child.
Young girls, please do not play around with boys. Although my mummy always told me to keep off boys, she never told me that a boy could make me pregnant but now l know better. If only I could turn back the wheels of time, I would not be here.
Juvenille justice in Uganda
Dedicated child-rights agencies have raised the standard of juvenile justice in Kampala. Nevertheless, many imprisoned children still face state prosecution without adequate legal assistance. Several distressing facts deserve attention.
State-funded lawyers defend children accused of capital crimes. Children imprisoned for lesser charges receive the attention of a social worker or probation officer. Social workers, however, are untrained in courtroom litigation. Unfortunately, this denial of experienced counsel eliminates any potential for a fair hearing.
Fair hearings are also compromised by understaffed judiciaries. The allocation of one social worker per court burdens even the most energetic civil servants with overwhelming caseloads. As a result, children often face trials without representation. PT Kakama of Save the Children-UK notes that, “Probation and Welfare staff are insufficiently resourced to effectively carry out their duties and the available Magistrates are too few to meet the full establishment of Family and Children’s Courts recently designated.”
These shortages generate unavoidable courtroom delays. Capital cases, in particular, take months in their transfer from the Family and Children’s Courts to the High Courts. Similarly, arrested children might wait for weeks before entering their first plea. And since the district registrar distributes case assignments after the first hearing, lagging trial procedures leave children imprisoned without assistance for months on end.
Statistics highlight the more pernicious effects of courtroom delays. Most disturbingly, children are held well beyond their period of legal remand. From March 99-00, 29 per cent of all capital suspects in Naguru Remand Home failed to receive court committals before the six month deadline. Of these children, 71 per cent were retained illegally in the home, while 29 per cent were released in accordance with the law. Interviews with Naguru staff, however, revealed that many of the released children were later re-arrested under more serious, often fabricated charges).
Conditions at the Naguru Remand Home, in fact, reflect inevitable symptoms of remand extension: overcrowded rooms, food and clothing shortages, poor health conditions, and the illegal transfer of children to adult prisons.
Concerned advocates therefore face three inescapable conclusions. Children accused of capital and non-capital offences are routinely detained for exorbitant periods of time. Alternatively, suspects might be released without facing allegations in court. Finally, children who do appear for trial are denied adequate representation.
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