Defiant Activist Jailed for Speaking Out Against Ugandan President

A prominent Ugandan feminist academic and queer rights activist has been convicted of speaking out against President Yoweri Museveni and seeking freedom of expression.

Dr. Stella Nyanzi, a medical anthropologist, feminist, queer rights activist and scholar of sexuality, family planning and public health, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for cyber harassment and offensive communication under the country’s Computer Misuse Act, the Johannesburg-based City Press reported Aug. 18.

“Radical rudeness” has been a tactic deployed by her throughout her fight for freedom of expression against the governing dictatorship.

The charges stem from a poem she posted on Facebook in 2018. It uses the “radical rudeness” philosophy that set the grounds for what is now known as the “Vagina case.”

“The Ugandan court described Nyanzi’s words as lewd, obscene, vile, vulgar and disgusting terms and references that suggest it would have been better if President Yoweri Museveni (75) had died before birth,” City Press reported. “Uganda has had one president for 33 years. The concept of freedom and equality is not tangible for many Ugandans, and speaking out against Museveni and the first family comes with grave repercussions.”

Nyanzi, described as one of the most prolific scholars on the subject of African sexuality, said she refuses “to be silenced in the face of oppression.”

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