MY BODY IS NOT A DEMOCRACY by Ester Kabasambo, Uganda
My body is not a democracy and therefore you should not vote for 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 for me a decision, you were not their when I was building it up.
I have rights over my body autonomy and integrity. This gives me fully ownership of my body and therefore I have a right to take 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. For instance, in my country – Uganda, I have limited access to abortion services, and the environment and stigma does not support the trans women rights. We recently had a case where a group of trans women were arrested from the shelter houses where they were staying during the lockdown.
Since Covid-19 started, 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 women’s bodies work 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 reproduction health rights information. Give me the information but don’t make the decision on what to do with my body for me. We recently had a case in Uganda where a young woman who was HIV positive was sterilized without her consent and this is because doctors thought she was not supposed to reproduce since she is positive.
As a woman, I need to embrace my beauty and dress up like a revolutionary fashionista with my fabulous dress and shoes which I have the uncanny ability to find at a reasonable price without any one interfering to guide me on how I dress up or not. I don’t need to compare myself to any one out their because we all have different lives to live. The only punishment I can give to those talking rubbish about me, making decisions for me is “self-love” by singing in the shower, taking myself out, buying new face beauties for myself and working on my body by doing exercises to remain fit.
I know am 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 but not judgement. What I need is information which will help me make good decisions for myself i.e. getting the right information on sexual reproductive health rights.
Therefore, I call upon everyone to help me join in the campaign of my body is not a democracy with Uganda network of young people living with HIV & AIDS (UNYPA), Uganda network on law ethics and HIV&AIDS (UGANET), the International Community of Women Living with HIV Eastern Africa (ICW EA). It’s time to demand for our bodily autonomy and integrity rights.
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