An Art Exhibition And A Launch Of A Civil Society Coalition On Sexual Violence At School Of Law

A five days’ art exhibition has been formerly opened this morning at the School of Law.  The innovation, the first of its kind was aimed at showcasing ongoing work in a project entitled ‘Infusing Law and policy with the voices of displaced survivors of sexual violence in conflict’.

The project is under implementation spearheaded by Dr. Josephine Ndagire, Lecturer School of Law Makerere University and Professor Jill Marshal from Royal Holloway University in London with support from the Global Challenges Research fund.

Prof. Christopher Mbazira Principal School of Law, while officiating at the launch of the exhibition noted that depicting stories through Art was yet another innovation by the School of Law. He commended Dr. Josephine Ndagire for building such partnerships that had resulted into new ways of doing things at the School.   He said teaching Lawyers was the major mandate of the School of Law and the use of various innovative ways of delivering knowledge and being responsive to the community activities and needs were of great importance.

He noted that School of Law has addressed issues of Human Rights through the Human Rights and Peace Center since 1992 and in the past handled projects concerning the legal implications of the wars in Northern Uganda among others. He said the project namely “Infusing Law and policy with the voices of displaced survivors of sexual violence in conflict’, would not only generate knowledge through research, but also help facilitate the process of healing of the survivors of sexual violence in war situations.

Prof. Mbazira observed that the current generation of law students were those born in the 1990s and that these did not have the opportunity to hear such stories.  The Art exhibition would therefore help visualize what actually happened through such a comprehensive story in order to help them avoid a repeat of such atrocities, he said.

During the event, the School of Law launched the Civil Society coalition on Sexual Violence, a network that will bring together organizations working with survivors of conflict related sexual violence. According to Dr. Josephine Ndagire, the School of Law will host the secretariat and membership will be drawn from organizations formed to address issues of displaced survivors of sexual violence in conflict’ citing Watyekigen and War victims as examples.   She said the coalition will among other responsibilities coordinate the activities of the various groups, mobilize resources and preserve the stories of the survivors through mediums like art and books as well as spearhead the advocacy initiatives for Government action for the welfare of the survivors.

About the art exhibition, she said the stories depicted in the artwork were actual and that every art piece was a complete story.

Representatives of the survivors of sexual violence in conflict, some of whose stories were depicted in the art work noted that ‘NGO’s are abusing the affected women in Northern Uganda” and commended the School of Law for the respectful way they handled them by accepting to disguise their identity by use of Art.

According to Prof. Jill Marshall, in a message delivered online by Dr. Alexander Gilder, the outcome of the research project will be research papers and user friendly materials for lawyers and non-lawyers with a focus on the feminist and development based approaches to vulnerability to sexual and Gender based violence of displaced persons including those who bear children from rape and their lack of inclusion and belonging to society. Uganda and School of Law specifically were to play a pivotal role in bringing out the issues of Human Rights violations.