Youth Space

My body is not a democracy! The cry of a young Ugandian girl

By Esther Kabashambo (Miss Y+ 2019/20)

My body is not a democracy and therefore you should not have a vote on what happens in my body or what my body should do. I am the landlord and caretaker of my body so I know what is right for my body. You are free to say what you think is good for my body but keep those opinions to yourself, don't make a decision for me, you were not there when I was building it up.

I have rights over my body autonomy and integrity. This gives me full ownership of my body and therefore I have a right to make my own decisions. The question is if this is my right “why do you deny me this right?” As a girl, woman, trans woman, lesbian etc. I have a lot of things I want to do with my body but my constitution does not support me, it’s only against me.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have felt like there has been an attack on my body from both the outside and inside. When I hear the stories of young girls being raped and defiled, women being violated, I begin to think I have stepped in a world where women don’t have rights. When I hear men speak about how a woman’s body works and their ideas for controlling them through legislation, I wonder if they have daughters, mothers and wives. We also have a challenge of fellow women bullying us and trying to put us down when we are trying to fight for our rights.

I have a right to access correct sexual reproductive health rights information. Give me the information but don’t make the decision on what to do with my body for me. We are still living in Uganda where a young HIV positive woman was sterilized without her consent because doctors thought she was not supposed to reproduce since she is living with HIV. Like who does that??

I know I'm not just a body, I am a soul, a spirit, a light to the world. I am living a precious life full of a purpose to fulfill and therefore I need your support not your judgement. What I need is information which will help me make responsible and informed decisions for myself i.e. getting the right information on sexual reproductive health rights.

I implore you all to join me in the #RespectMyBody campaign to ensure that mine, yours and every Ugandan's bodily rights are recognized, respected and fulfilled, It’s time to demand for our bodily integrity.

As the current Y+ Beauty Pageant Queen, it is my duty to inform you that the 2020 Y+ beauty pageant campaign is on, I encourage all young positives to Join the campaign as we continue to Change the Narrative!

My Body is not a democracy is a campaign that Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS launched in collaboration with Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) and Uganda Key Populations Consortium (UKPC) supported by AIDS and Rights Alliance for southern Africa (ARASA) in a bid to achieve bodily autonomy and integrity. This is running concurrently with our annual Y+ Beauty Pageant whose grand finale is on 20th November 2020, a mini concom campaign supported by UNFPA aimed at increasing access to condoms and right information about them, as well as a Cordaid funded COVID-relief Program in various districts of the country.

The Writer, Esther Kabashambo is the current Miss Y+ 2019/20. She is very passionate in advocating for the rights of young people living with HIV.

Launch of my body is not a democracy