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Nakiryowa with her children before the acid attack. photo: New vision. – gateway of Africa’s social issues news around the world,

Sunday Vision-Photographs of Hanifa Nakiryowa 30, before she was burnt with acid, are proof enough that she was a beautiful woman. 

The corrosion left her face scarred, but it did not break her spirit. Nakiryowa is not hiding under veils. She proved this by walking into the New Vision offices with her head held high.

Even after various operations at Mulago Hospital, doctors have referred her to South Africa for further care, but she has no money as she has been out of work for long.

One of her eyes is damaged. She told Sunday Vision it was now useless to cry over spilled milk. Instead, she is out to join hands with acid attack victims to advocate for an end to acid attacks in this country.

Before the attack, Nakiryowa was the monitoring and evaluation officer at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) — UNICEF partnership programme in charge of keeping mothers and children alive, safe and in school.

Her story

I come from a poor family, which, nonetheless managed to put me through school up to university, with the hope that I would later help my other siblings.

Unfortunately, I did not know that getting involved with Faisal Buyinza, my former lecturer, whom I met at university in 2003, would crash my family’s hopes.

By 2005, we had moved in together and by the time of my graduation in 2006, it was a double celebration, as I was also having my first child.

“But the celebration never lasted long. A text message I received on the third day after I had given birth was enough to annoy him so much that he threw me out of our  home.

The message had come from a male friend I studied with at the university. The other messages congratulating me on getting a baby never bothered him because they were from girls. After my family had intervened, he cooled down, but he hit me with another surprise: I was to become a housewife. No career.

My pleas for him to allow me work and help my family fell on deaf ears. For seven years I obliged and stayed home to cook for him and care for our two children. I also continued with my studies.

But accusations of unfaithfulness continued in 2008 while he was abroad for further studies, so I proposed that he grants me a separation, in what is known as ‘Talak’ in Islam, but he refused. Our religious leaders explained that once a man refuses the idea, separation or divorce cannot be granted. Friends and family members would see me drive his posh cars and probably think I was happy, but none of them knew I was living like a slave. I was so miserable.

After I got my master’s degree last year, I applied for and got a job at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.

I thought this place of employment would not bother him, but he was not happy. He again accused me of infidelity and threatened my life, which I reported to the Old Kampala Police post, but nothing was done.

The last blow came when I got an iron bar under the pillow one morning while making our bed. I immediately called my father to pick me up and take me to safety. I sought protection in my brother’s home. Little did I know that something tragic was coming.

The attack

One day, while I was at my brother’s home, he called and asked that I take the children to visit him for the weekend. He promised to return them on Sunday.

On Sunday, he instead called and asked me to go pick them, claiming he was busy.

Unsuspecting, I went to pick my children. On reaching the Makerere University gate, I called him. I asked him to come pick me from there.

He refused and told me to walk to Mugenyi Flats. It was dark, around 8:00pm.

I knocked on his door several times, but no one opened.

As I waited, I saw a man in the corridor walk towards me. I thought he was one of the guards so I relaxed. As he walked passed me, I courteously greeted him. He continued to a cupboard near where I stood and bent down. I could hear him unwrap a kaveera (polythene bag). I had no idea he would be my attacker. On getting up, he poured acid straight into my face.

In shock and pain, I called out my husband’s name, but he never came to my aid.

The neighbours must have heard my screams. They ran to my rescue. When my husband finally opened the door, my baby naturally ran to me. Unfortunately, he fell into acid that had spilled on the floor.

The neighbours rushed me to Mulago Hospital, where my husband later followed with our baby.

A scuffle followed at Mulago after he met my father and brothers as they accused him of the incident. He ran to the Police and filed a case claiming my family was threatening his life and he never came back for the three months I was admitted at Mulago Hospital.



Justice would never be mine

The case

One of my cousins reported the case at Wandegeya police station, where they managed to get exhibits like sim cards and mobile phones but nothing was followed up. My husband was given police bond and the file completely disappeared.

When I left the hospital, I decided that I could not let things remain like that. I was told that the file was at CPS where I went and resurrected it. When the file was transferred to Kawempe, it also sat there idle. I filed this complaint at the DPP’s office but again the file was buried there.

I resorted to the media and one of the radio stations gave me chance to speak out on how my case was being handled and this is when the file moved out of the DPP’s office and was sanctioned. That is also when the case went to court.

In court, my husband pleaded not guilty and when his lawyer requested for bail, prosecution agreed yet the prosecutor had not even had time to look at my face, know or even speak to me.

At this point I was frustrated and angry seeing that I was being denied justice. I decided to tell the presiding magistrate (who never even wanted to look at my face) that I was withdrawing henceforth from the case and let the state do its work.

I did this because there was no form of security and no audience to hear me out. I was wondering what sort of investigations they were claiming to still be doing 10 months down the road.

To-date, I endure a lot of physical and emotional pain. Sometimes people laugh and mock at me saying I deserved what I got for stealing someone’s husband. I only smile at their ignorance.

I still can not breathe properly at night. I have to use nasal tubes to keep my nostrils open for breathing since my nose was totally shrunk by the acid. I see with only one eye and my skin is fragile. But life has to go on.

I believe God gave me a second chance when he did not allow me to die. This has motivated me to start a campaign for human rights.

I also want to become a motivational/inspirational speaker to inspire couples to find ways of resolving conflicts non-violently.

Source: (Newvision)

Kismaayodaily On November - 14 - 2012

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