KAMPALA – Ms Samantha Mwesigye, a Senior State Attorney, has accused Mr Christopher Gashirabake, the Director of Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, of subjecting her to sexual harassment for over 10 years.
In a letter shared with the media, Ms Mwesigye says Mr Gashirabake has sexually harassed her for over 10 years even though he is the chairman of the disciplinary committee at the ministry.
She says her attempts to seek legal redress with different government agencies have been met with victimization and ridicule, the reason she has opted to go public.
“I was compelled to take this step because none of the formal channels or government institutions to which I have lodged informal and formal complaints, with cogent evidence, impregnable documentation and other limns of proof to support my case have demonstrated the will or capacity to investigate, take remedial actions or otherwise provide adequate recourse to my situation. At best, I have only received lip service and at worst, been blamed, ostracized and/or alienated,” she says.
Ms Mwesigye says at one time, she approached Mr Gashirabake and begged him to stop harassing her but that the latter refused to back off.
“Not even a personal appeal via email to my tormentor—in which I narrated the terrible experience I have been through and begged him as a parent to stop his advances—could convince him to let me be. His callous response was “Noted. Was this missive required?” He then convened a departmental meeting which had been scheduled twice before but because of my absence, had been postponed and therein, proceeded to ridicule and intimidate me. Quite obviously, this is hardly the conduct of an innocent person,” she says.
Ms Mwesigye says after this, she lodged a formal complaint on 20th September 2018 in which she requested that a Sexual Harassment Committee (as provided for by law) be constituted so as to investigate the matter.
“The harassment has since graduated to victimization. I have been irregularly recalled from Committees and prevented from leaving the country. Nothing has been done to address my complaints. It begs the question: if the Chief Legal Advisor of Government who doubles as a policymaker and is vested with the mandate to draft laws—including the Employment (Sexual Harassment Regulations,12012 under which I am seeking redress can act with such impunity, which Ugandans, at any level or status, is safe from such excesses?”
She appeals to the rest of the public to help fight the practice she describes as a cancer.
“As I await an opportunity to formally share my ordeal (with evidence) and hopefully get justice, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to each and everyone who has taken interest in my plight- This includes those who have dismissed me out of hand because different viewpoints and opinions contribute towards the conversation we must have as a society about the scourge of sexual harassment. It has wrecked careers, destroyed hard-earned reputations and left its victims scared for life. It must be confronted,” she adds.