People struggling

Anthropology: Uganda Sociopolitical Human Rights Dilemma in Response to COVID-19


Uganda has a very shady history when it comes to the violation of human rights. A lot of this especially reared its head when it came to the response of the COVID-19 pandemic. Quite a few times, a lot of people from Uganda have trodden over the rights of others. This includes the police force, the military, and many other authoritarian organizations. Many people have tried to intervene in the name of the people of Uganda. They think that these kinds of bans are a force that creates authoritarian legislation that limits the personal freedoms of the Ugandan people.

Uganda | Culture, History, & People | Britannica
City of Uganda

Use of COVID-19 to Discriminate Minorities

The Ugandans tend to portray this as seen with how they make COVID-19 come across as a deadlier disease compared to Ebola. A lot of fear has emerged towards different groups of people within the Ugandan community. This includes people who travel. Since COVID 19 tends to spread a lot among the people that travel a lot, Uganda has taken top priorities in order to create fear in the people that go places. Uganda uses this to promote racism, xenophobia, and discrimination by preventing people from being able to gain access to food, water, and other public goods and services.

Uganda: Respect Rights in COVID-19 Response | Human Rights Watch
Often the rights of other citizens were taken away because of COVID 19

Bias against Foreigners

One of the most interesting aspects is how the people of Uganda assume that the foreigners coming into their land are rich people. One of the statements used against the foreigners included “If you rich people who are going to bring for us the disease, don’t come near me.” This shows how the Ugandan government tries to depict foreigners as if they are harmful. It is exactly what the totalitarian government tries to do in order to control people: they make it appear as if there is something dangerous about them. Exactly what Hitler did to the Jews.

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The authoritarian police keep people in check

Examples of Avoidance with Foreigners

This kind of behavior is further expanded by the fact that he noticed that a lot of the people within the store were avoiding a certain store owner. The main reason for this had a lot to do with the rumors that surrounded him in regards to how this man had COVID. Many people refused to shop from him. A lot of them felt as if his presence was a disturbance. This demonstrates how the totalitarian system within the Uganda nation used fear as a method to make people afraid of people that potentially had COVID. It’s using the pandemic to promote fascism.
This especially hit the Asian community in Uganda. It has led to a lot of forceful, imposed quarantine for the people that were considered to be Asian American. Three Chinese people tried to escape the quarantine that the Congo had placed upon them. Therefore, a lot of fear has circulated among people of Chinese descent within the Congo region. This has caused there to be a lot of controversy in how Asian Americans are treated. Since a lot of them already face stereotypes for COVID coming from Asia, they feel the hardest weight when it comes to the dictatorial power from Africa.

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Misconceptions of COVID 19

Another belief that leads to a lot of people from Uganda to believe that they are being attacked is that the pandemic has been caused by evil spirits. The community will take part in Pyemo Lybo. This is when they bang together objects in order to get the evil spirit to leave. Considering that there are a lot of Asian Americans that are stereotyped to have COVID, this does not make the racial group look good. In fact, it makes it come across as if they do not have a good tiding. This contributes to the racism against Asian Americans.

What do you call the disease caused by the novel coronavirus? Covid-19
A lot of misinformation exists of COVID 19

Superstition vs. Facts

Another issue that this causes for the people of Uganda is that it makes them prone to superstition instead of listening to the facts. Instead of participating in washing their hands and trying not to touch their face, the Ugandans have instead alienated quite a few of their people by engaging within ritualistic tradition and becoming very much engaged with xenophobia as an excuse to discriminate against certain groups of people all in an attempt to make sure COVID does not affect anyone. Clearly there are a lot of authoritarian practices set up with this in an attempt to make COVID an excuse to discriminate others.

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A lot of superstitions exist among Ugandan people

How Uganda Discriminates against Other People

Uganda has also gone a lot further in terms of how it discriminates against other people. According to the Human Rights and Promotion Forum, they challenged a section of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act, which banned protection for LGBTI, women, and sex workers. It not only left workers of the commission in a vulnerable state, but it also prevented them from being able to get help from the issues that they face. The court has now ruled these limitations as unjustifiable in a free and democratic society, but considering they would go through with these shows their discriminatory issues.

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A Contrast to the Everyday Discrimination against Deviants

The commission, on the other hand, served as a contrast to the many discriminatory factors that Ugandans had gone through. It helped them be able to overcome some of the discriminatory values by eliminating discrimination that was based on race, class, religion, gender, and disability. They take responsibility for all the issues that go on with the marginalized because nobody else in Uganda would take responsibility for the problems of these people. They served as the voice for these individuals when nobody else would stand up for them. They gave them a voice.

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Everyday the people struggle

COVID Increasing Minority Discrimination

The interesting fact surrounding all of this has a lot to do with the fact that the discrimination against minority groups rapidly increased in the wake of COVID 19. While Uganda already had a lot of surveillance against these kinds of people before the pandemic, COVID 19 has only accentuated some of the discrimination that already existed against these people. Media reports indicate that violence and strife had increased following the lockdowns. It has caused many of the Ugandans to perform prevention and control measures. These types of measures are authoritarian in nature and go against helping people of different backgrounds.

UNAIDS calls for the LGBT community in Uganda to be treated with respect and  dignity at all times | UNAIDS
Minority Discrimination

Law Enforcement and Discrimination

A very interesting aspect includes the factor that it is law enforcement that is trying to bring about these kinds of discrimination. The fact that the law enforcement is trying to bring about these kinds of tension shows that despite the fact they are used as a means to maintain order in society, they are the ones that are causing discrimination. A lot of men tend to be the more vulnerable groups in Uganda. 58.8 percent of the total Uganda population found being male as a contributing factor as to why they faced so much discrimination during the pandemic.

Right of Freedom of Assembly

This has also played a role with the right of freedom of assembly has come under attack from Uganda in the recent years. This has included allowing the police to crack down on political organizations that tried to organize in order to protest. The irony with all this is that the Public Order Management Act itself has broken the law. Since it prevents people from being able to actively form together to peacefully protest. Some of these acts have also prevented people from openly expressing their sexuality as well as the way they expressed themselves in terms of how they dressed.

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Many people of Uganda struggle under the authoritarians

Restrictions on LGBT People

The Anti-Homosexuality Act has also placed a lot of restrictions upon people who are refugees. It manages to do this by restricting assistance for refugees. One of the more brutal instances where this had a real effect was when the Walter Reed Project was raided by police officers. This made a lot of LGBT people too scared to access health care. This overall shows to what limits the dictatorial were determined to undo some of the freedoms that a lot of people were able to enjoy. It overall shows that there has been a lot of determination to strip people of their rights.

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Many Ugandans felt misturst towards their government aftr passing Anti-Gay Laws

Mistrust of Police

The general mistrust of police has also caused there to be a lot of worry for minotiries. Since many of the minorities do not feel comfortable hanging around the police, many of them feel too frightened to go near them or report back to them. This shows how there is so much discrimination that most of the minorities themselves refuse to come out and report about incidents that transgress them. It very clearly demonstrates how there is a divide in terms of how people are perceived and how they actually are in real life.

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The Police is generally not trusted.

Other Forms of Discrimination

Other forms of discrimination that existed within the Uganda spaces is the discrimination that a lot of women go through. More than 56 percent of women have reported experiencing some form of spousal abuse. 22 percent have also experienced sexual violence. In order to create change about this, the Ugandan National Committee has partnered with the United Nations in order to create a Spotlight Initiative targeting addressing the issue of gender and sexual violence. The initiative was launched on March 8, 2020 on the celebration of the International Women’s Day Celebration. This clearly demonstrates how there has been a lot of support for women in Uganda despite the fact of these occurrences.

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Scar displays wound from police beating

Other Organization

Other organizations that have helped with crises like these include the Plan International. This is a non-profit organization that has helped underprivileged girls around the world. This includes places like Uganda. Plan International has done everything to influence Uganda and return human rights to the people that need it most. They do this by mentoring younger girls who need it most. These young women tend to be very diminished with the resources they have. Other capabilities that the organization has tried to do is turn men into allies.

World Health Organization Uganda - Home | Facebook
World Health Organization

Impact of AIDs

AIDs has also had a huge impact on the society of Uganda. It has promoted both social stratification and discrimination. AIDs has caused a lot of problems like reducing the size of the labor force. This has a lot to do with the fact that there has been a lot of death when it comes to the AIDs epidemic. The problem with the fact that Uganda has not addressed the AIDs epidemic has a lot to do with the general discrimination that they usually bestow towards people that identify as gay. The homophobia creates all kinds of problems for the Ugandan people.

In Uganda, an AIDS Success Story Comes Undone - The New York Times
Uganda Gathering for People with AIDS.

National AIDs Control Program

All that being said, Uganda was a part of the National AIDs Control Programme. However, they only focused on the issue from a medical point of view. In this case there is very little compassion for the different people that are suffering at the end of the day. It also demonstrates how there is very little compassion for the people that are suffering. In many ways it shows how there is some degree of reluctance when it comes to trying to study these types of diseases within the Uganda community. It may be a case of virtue signaling, but it does not solve the problem.

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HIV Test

AIDS Support Organization

Another group is the AIDs Support Organization. They are made up of a small group of families and friends that have offered their support for the people affected by the AIDs epidemic. The key interest with this group is the fact that the AIDs epidemic has affected them in some way as well. This gives them a very personal reason as to why they want to help the people in need. This makes them more legitimate than the National AIDs Control Programme because it makes it come across as if they actually care for the people.

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Woman advocating for more attention for AIDS

LGBT Prominent Target

Unfortunately, LGBT people are the most prominent target when it comes to the forms of attacks from the COVID 19 pandemic. The UN felt alarmed that Uganda would do this, so they decided to limit the COVID response to simply use of emergency power to public health issues. This shows how the Uganda government uses the pandemic in order to harm LGBTI people. Because of this, it really shows how different world organizations really needed to intervene on the behalf of the Ugandans. Considering that they continued to discriminate against people that were of minority status, they need to hull them ba

Acen, a single mother with five children, holds the antiretroviral drugs she is struggling to take because of a lack of food. "When you take medication on an empty stomach, it gives you a funny sickness," she says. She cannot work because of the coronavirus lockdown in Uganda, which has lasted two months.
Gulu, Northern Uganda, May 11, 2020. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Sally Hayden


All in all, a lot of the people of Uganda have felt the weight of an oppressive society. However, there is a lot of help being sent over to the minority groups. Potentially, this is a sign that help is starting to come towards them. This may show how Ugandans may eventually have the opportunities they have long sought out. However, at the same time, it has shown how the Ugandans need help more than ever. Overall, this demonstrates the struggles that the people of Uganda endure.

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