KAMPALA. Women activists yesterday demanded that deputy Solicitor General Christopher Gashirabake, who is in the storm of alleged sexual harassment of a junior female staff, should step down to pave way for the ongoing investigations into the matter.
While addressing the press in Kampala the women activists, under Chapter 4 Uganda, said the position Mr Gashirabake is holding is powerful and is likely to influence the investigations to his advantage.
Mr Gashirabake is under investigation by the Sexual Harassment Committee after a junior staff Senior State Attorney, Ms Samantha Mwesigye, accused him of sexually harassing her since her internship when he was her supervisor.
“Given this absurd unfolding of events, we the women of Uganda, therefore, demand that the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, treats Ms Mwesigye’s complaint with urgency. We ask the accused (Mr Gashirabake) to step down pending completion of the investigations,” the women activists charged yesterday.
They held placards reading: respect women’s bodies, Gashirabake should step down, violence free workplaces for all, stop sexual harassment , women get sexually harassed at workplaces every day, we are breaking the silence…”
Ms Tina Musuya, the executive director of Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP), cautioned parents about their daughters whom she said are the most sexually harassed at work places given their naivety.
“Sexual harassment happens widely. Unfortunately, those who come up to speak against it, are victimised. When we come to workplaces, as women we need to be treated with dignity,” Ms Musuya urged male staff.
“First, we commend Ms Mwesigye for the courage to speak up against sexual harassment in employment. It’s no easy feat. By speaking up, She has given courage to several women and girls to claim their voices and demand safer workplaces and started a movement against acceptability and normalisation of sexual harassment in our workplaces,” Ms Sarah Birete, a women rights activist said.
When Daily Monitor contacted the Solicitor General, Mr Francis Atoke, on whether he would ask his deputy to step down as investigations are ongoing, he said he could not comment because he was out of the country.
Some of the women activists also decried how men needlessly ‘badtouch’ them when they go shopping in town and said this must stop.
Anna Ebaju Adeke, Youth MP, said it is a shame for the Justice Ministry which is supposed to be a custodian of law and constitutionalism to be caught in such embarrassing conduct.
Ms Mwesigye, who was in the company of the women activists, assured her alleged tormentors of how she will not be silenced and insisted she has overwhelming evidence to prove her claims.
She said Mr Gashirabake needs to clean up his conduct.
She also took a swipe at the Solicitor General for allegedly lying that she had not approached him about the alleged sexual harassment and instead went to the media.
“Atoke let me down, the Justice ministry has let me down, Prime Minister has let me down, the World Bank have not helped me. Did Atoke want me to wait for three years in order to go to the media?” Ms Mwesigye charged.
Mr Gashirabake has since declined to comment on the sexual harassment allegations against him.
On March 6, 2019, Ms Mwesigye petitioned Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda saying her supervisor Mr Gashirabake started sexually harassing her when he supervised her as a clerkship student and has continued this behaviour.
According to the Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations, 2012, sexual harassment involves a direct or implicit request to an employee for sexual intercourse, sexual contact or any other form of sexual activity; use of language whether written or spoken of sexual nature such as unwelcome verbal advances, sexual oriented comments, request for sexual favours, jokes of sexual nature among others.