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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"The Law is Male" ~ David Batema

Today's presentation was absolutely inspirational and really enlightening.  We were greeted by His Worship, Judge David Batema, who spoke to us about gender issues that exist in Uganda.  His Worship graduated from Makerere University Law School where he learned and determined that Uganda's laws are "male".  The laws are made to cater toward men, their ideals, wants, and perspectives.  Mr. Batema knew gender equality was a problem and that is when he began to preach about equality and became a magistrate.

This presentation was so uplifting, and the way he connected gender equality to the Bible, the government, and different cultures. Therefore, I believe that everyone was able to take something away from what His Worship preached about. It was personally hard to hear those stories that he told us about the differences between the way men and women are convicted in violent domestic and sexual acts.  I am interested to hear how all of you feel about marriage.  Do you believe when two people get married that one person has a property right over the other?

I found it kind of sad that it was not until 1995 that Uganda established, what I feel is a flawed law, saying that men and women are to be treated as equal. I liked the way His Worship said that, "the struggle for women's rights is not between women and men, but a struggle for justice and human rights." It is going to take a lot of time, patience, and as Mr. Batema said an attitude change, to see a change in how people perceive gender equality in Uganda.  I really could go on for days about how much I appreciated and all that I learned from "Sister Batema's" presentation.  It was so inspirational that I would love hear more from His Worship and the progress Uganda makes toward gender equality.

How did you feel about His Worship's presentation?  How did you feel about the reactions of the MUBS students to the presentation?  Do you feel that gender equality has an impact on sustainable development?


  1. To answer your first question, I definitely do not believe that a person EVER becomes the property of another person. It was hard to hear that the culture allows for this type of disgusting behavior to occur. It really really makes me appreciate that we come from a developed nation even more. I, for one, take so much of our basic rights in the USA for granted. It was extremely difficult to listen to His Worship's gruesome description of the court cases from the late 90's and early 2000's. It was particularly difficult to see some of the MUBS students laughing about a women getting convicted for defending her "property" and when they would be practically tortured by their husbands. Who laughs at a disgusting thing like that? There is so much more I would say, but in an effort to keep it clean that is where I will end.

  2. I really enjoyed David Batema's 'lecture'. It was very interesting to get a better understanding of women's rights here and not just observing them. It was also really great to see that there are people out there trying to make a difference and trying to make things right. It's great that he had such a passion for this, especially being a male (hopefully it will make more people listen and understand his views more than just when women are fighting for their own rights.) David was so right that Uganda's biggest problem (and its not just with equality but change in general) is their attitude. Almost everyone here still believes that men "own" women and that everything is their property. It was devastating to me to hear these horrible stories of women being horribly violated and abused but then when they were just protecting themselves they would get convicted, while when men would kill because of something their wife did they would not be convicted because they were "protecting their property". Even though this was about 20 years ago, I'm sure there is still some of this going on today. Sadly, it amazed me by how some of the MUBS students reacted. From what I observed some of the male students also had these "attitudes" that David talked about. I understand they were brought up in this culture and so there is a big difference in what we were raised thinking, but i guess I sometimes forget this. I think gender equality can help promote education which is the best way to change attitudes as well as more women’s education will lead to options of them having input and impact on society instead of all male points of view. It will take time for total change to happen, but its people like David Batema that will bring their passion and open other peoples eyes to bring about the necessary change.
    The quote David said "if you don't change with changes change will change you" really got me thinking and as long as structural changes start occurring, hopefully the culture will be forced to change to accept this equality.

  3. I was really impressed by His Worship's presentation today. He is an incredibly talented speaker and he discussed a number of very important things. One point that he brought up that seemed especially significant to me was when he was discussing how a woman at a conference had addressed him as "Miss" and had argued that obviously he was a woman and not a man because he was speaking so passionately about gender equality and women's rights, and no masculine person would ever do that. To my knowledge, most prominent persons who have fought for gender equality in the past have been female. It is almost always members of the oppressed group who speak out against oppression. So I think it is not only impressive, but also incredibly valuable and important to have a man standing up against the subjugation of women. Some of the stories that he told us were truly horrifying. And although the 1995 constitution included a passage asserting that men and women were equal, many of the female entrepreneurs that I have spoken with here have said that the country's bureaucracy is still one of the main obstacles to women starting their own businesses. Gender inequality is a significant deterrent to sustainable development, because a country cannot prosper while half of its citizens are suffering. Also, these kinds of prejudices and restrictions prevent women from contributing their valuable time, effort, and intellect to the nation and its economy. As David said, we are on the right road to equality, but we still have a long way to go. I hope that someday within my lifetime we will see a world without gender-based injustices.

  4. I agree with Andrew in that I believe that a person never becomes the property of another person. I think that a husband claiming his wife is his property makes her less than human. I though sister Batema's presentation was outstanding and was something I wanted to know more about which is whether men are considered equal to women here. I found it interesting when he talked about how some men consider their wives who work at home "not working" when in fact the wives probably make more money than the man due to the people the man doesn't have to hire to do certain jobs around the house. It was refreshing that a man was finally standing up for women's rights because I think that is uncommon in the US that a man is that passionate about it. I was surprised when some of the MUBS girls said they would take the chair if there was only one chair since it conflicted with what his worship said earlier that the man would take the chair. I think it is a case of where a person says they would do one thing, but they act differently when in the moment. I think that gender equality is essential to sustainable development since it is difficult for a country to develop much if half their population doesn't have the same rights. By preventing women from taking certain jobs, the country could end up with a shortage of people in certain professions (which is the case with doctors). Restricting equality prevents the development of not only that gender, but the whole country.

  5. Going into the lecture, I expected this to be another morning where I struggled to keep my eyes open and engaged. However, I can easily say that this was not the case and that I thoroughly enjoyed and learned an awful lot of from His Worship. I agree with my classmates and a lot of the convincing points that they are making. I too do not think that a person ever becomes the property of another person. We were all created as individuals who deserve the right to be whoever they want and think and act for themselves. I totally see how his job is a difficult one, because people are very steadfast in their beliefs and even in talking to the MUB students, they have no desire to see this change anytime soon. I was also very disturbed to hear the stories of the racial inequality, but I was more taken aback as to how the MUB students responded. Talking with several of them more in depth about this at lunch, they do not believe that women should be seen or treated as an equal to a man. I had a hard time wrapping my head around this concept since America has not been at this stage for many many years. I hope that people like David can begin to change people's views and positively impact Uganda as a whole. Because until they reach a stage of gender equality (or as close as you can get), I think there sustainable development will continue to be hindered. In order to have a successful and sustainable country all members of society have to contribute. If the women are not allowed to contribute or do not have rights that they need and deserve, which in turns prevent the development of the country. In my opinion, in order for Uganda to continue to move forward more people need to take David's stance and begin to see man and woman as equals.

  6. David Batema's speech was very interesting to me, however very sad! The things he was describing occurred in America quite a long time ago! America is still fighting inequality, but compared to most countries men and women are treated more equally. I cannot imagine being treated as I was property in a marriage. In my opinion no one should be considered property! When Mr. (Sister) Batema was explaining a situation of a women being convicted for protecting her property (womanhood) by stabbing a man seven times I imagined this occurring in the 1950's. I was shocked to hear that it was a fairly recent case (late 1990's to early 2000's). In no way shape of form do I see that as being fair! Several of the things he said actually shocked me! Mr. Batema calls himself unique because a lot of people, especially men, do not talk about the gender issues Uganda has. I hope that he continues to educate and spread the importance among the youth in hopes that they can make a change!

    After his presentation a few of us girls talked to two of the male MUBS students. We were very shocked to hear that they have the beliefs that they are superior to women and do not want to see that change! They view women as very weak and unable. This really frustrates me and also saddens me for the women of Uganda! We talked about several things with them but we kept going back to the concept of the "single chair". They said that no matter the situation (who walks in the room first), the man should always receive the chair and the women should sit on the floor! We talked to them about males cheating and they admitted that it occurs quite often in Uganda. After hearing all of that, we asked their opinions on the convicted women Mr. Batema referred to and they believe that it was right for her to be convicted. I was shocked by all of this and had a lot of mixed feelings!

    In the past talking to the MUBS students we have noticed small differences, but with the topic of gender inequality our beliefs are almost 180 degrees different! I still cannot wrap my mind around all of this, but it is important to remember that it is just the culture they grew up in and they don't know any different! I hope the women our age continue to fight for their equality and see improvements quickly! I could go on and on about this topic...I just hope to see a change soon!

  7. What an interesting discussion with David Batema. I learned so much about gender issues that Uganda faces today. I was shocked at some of the examples he gave of women being convicted for protecting themselves. The whole aspect of the law being male in Uganda makes it very difficult for women to protect themselves even if they have been violated. I think it is wrong to believe that people have property over their partner when they are married. I think that everyone in a country should have equal rights from the government.

    I was shocked and a little discouraged by the MUBS students reactions to the presentation. How sad it is to think that some of the males we have gotten to know so well still think that a woman does not have the right to protect herself. I had mixed feelings about this situation. These students are good people and to them this type of inequality is just their social norm. Mr. Batema is working so hard to change this norm.

    I feel that gender equality does relate to sustainable development. In order for women to be successful they need to feel that they can be heard and protected by the law. Many women who may want to start businesses or even contribute to the economy might feel threatened if the law does not protect them.

  8. David's lecture was very interesting, in a good way! He was very strong about his beliefs about equality. I believe that no woman should ever be considered "property" of any man. This shocked me that David said that even though the woman keeps the house running and family healthy, they don't own anything within the house. It is the mans house and the mans car. Another thing that was extremely interesting to me was the match and matchbox example. This is where the MUBS male students and the Drake students differed. David asked if you were from your father, or both. All of the Drake students said both, and the MUBS said father. I could not believe this. The woman carries the baby for nine months and don't receive any of the credit for conceiving the child. With the example David was trying to make was the fact that you can't get fire without both the match and the matchbox. So, you cannot have a child without BOTH woman and man. Still the MUBS male students did not believe in this. I just didn't understand, but this is when the cultural differences come into play. Gender issues play an important role in sustainable development because without equality there will be more fighting than good to the country. If women and men have the same rights, there could be an increase in jobs, which means more money for women with children.