Sanyu: Uganda - Equality Now


Sanyu - Uganda

In 2011, Equality Now, in partnership with Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities (LAPD), took on the case of a severely disabled Ugandan girl named Sanyu who gave birth to a child as a result of possible incest.

Sanyu was denied access to justice: her severe disabilities made her unable to identify her rapist, and the government refused to pay for DNA tests for her child or her father and her brothers, who are suspects in her rape. Sanyu is now living in a home for the disabled, and the child was taken away from her.

We successfully raised funds for DNA testing and, after repeatedly advocating to the Ugandan authorities, had her case reopened.

Police took DNA samples from Sanyu and her baby, as well as three of her male relatives, who were suspects. The remaining suspect, one of Sanyu’s brothers, ran away before his DNA could be taken.

When the DNA tests were finally received more than a year later, the results showed that, though none of the three tested subjects were the perpetrator, the baby’s father was genetically of the same paternal line. To our knowledge, the police never made efforts to apprehend and test the remaining brother - who was later found dead in 2013.

We are strategizing with partners on the next move in Sanyu’s case. We hope that this case will highlight how vulnerable disabled girls are to violence, and will establish an important precedent that the government should take special measures to prevent and prosecute sexual violence against girls with disabilities.