An elderly woman in Tororo District was raped. However, at the time of trial when she was supposed to pin the alleged rapist in court, Ms Apai (other name withheld), shied away from naming the sexual organ her tormentor had used to rape her.

When asked by court to narrate exactly what happened to her on the fateful day, Ms Apai, pointing at the accused in the dock, merely said he [the accused] made her “his wife”.

That was in 1994. Court proceeded and discharged the man on grounds that Ms Apai did not mention the private parts that the man used to perform a sexual act against her.

The above and many similar cases in court where victims of sexual crime have been denied justice on mere vague reference to sexual organs used in sexual assault, have prompted a review by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which has acquired substitute instruments that will be used during the hearing of sex-related crimest.

On Friday, the DPP received 12 anatomic dolls that will be used to demonstrate a sexual act performed against children and other adults who are shy to mention the private parts during court proceedings.

An anatomic doll depicts some of the primary and secondary sex characteristics of a human for educational purposes.
“The anatomic dolls will be used as demonstration aids to help young victims of sexual violence and even adults to show to court what happened to them and also aid the prosecutor to lead the evidence without compelling the victim to recite words that they may be uncomfortable mentioning in public,” Ms Samali Wakoli, the head of Gender, Children and Sexual Offences department, said while receiving 12 anatomic dolls on Friday.
She added: “We have been having challenges in court because of the cultural beliefs where nobody wants to name the private parts by their actual names and yet court expects a prosecutor to lead evidence to clearly state what happened since the standard of proof in criminal cases is beyond reasonable doubt.”
Ms Wakoli further said the anatomic dolls will help the prosecution to bridge the communication gap between prosecutors and deaf and dump witnesses.

Sex-related cases
Statistics from the DPP office show that the bulk of criminal cases (about 70 per cent) are sexual in nature.

Many Ugandan cultures perceive sex to be too private to be mentioned or discussed openly. Because of such strong cultural restrictions, some witnesses find it difficult to openly talk about sexual acts during the hearing of rape and defilement cases in court. Individuals, families and communities all use different terms to refer to the sexual organs.

The DPP is now confident that the anatomic dolls will improve access to justice for children and vulnerable victims of sexual crimes.

The Children at Risk Action Network (CRANE), a rights organisation that supports prosecution of sexual crimes against children, provided the 12 anatomic dolls.

Ms Faith Kembabazi, the director of CRANE, said: “The anatomic doll is an anatomic of a person since it has body parts of a person and the victims of sexual violence can simply point at those sexual parts to express what exactly happened.”

Source: Daily Monitor

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