Uganda

A Ugandan Court Defends a Grandmother and Sets a New Precedent

KAMPALA, UGANDA—

By Kathryn Wilkes

Kathryn Wilkes is the Field Office Director for IJM Kampala. She and her team have helped defend more than 1,000 widows and orphans from property grabbing. 

You may have heard Juliana’s story from us before. She is an elderly widow who was attacked with a machete—her hand was severely cut when she raised it to block the machete’s blow to her head. This attack came after months of abuse, threats, and intimidation from a distant relative, who claimed that Juliana’s land belonged to him.

Study Sheds New Light on Violence Against Ugandan Widows

New IJM research finds that nearly one of three widows in one area of Uganda is a victim of property grabbing—a devastating crime that threatens lives and livelihoods for some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.

Nearly 20% of these victims reported that attempts were made on their lives—and more than 30% reported threats against their children—by powerful neighbors or relatives trying to steal their homes or land.

The Battle for Home: How Property Grabbing Has Divided One Family in Uganda

Charles is flanked by IJM lawyer Diana and IJM aftercare specialist Lydia. Diana says: “These arrests show that those who steal the property of the most vulnerable, will be punished. Because of these arrests, Charles now has hope that his land will be recovered.”

KAMPALA, UGANDA – A battle that has lasted nearly as long as Charles has been alive is ending soon: This week, a man and woman were arrested and charged for stealing and selling off land that should belong to Charles, now 19, and his two orphaned siblings.

Elderly Widow Mary Now Safe in her Home of 50 Years

KAMPALA, UGANDA – Mary lived on the same small plot of land in her rural village in Uganda for 50 years. It was where she raised her children, grew her family’s food, and where she buried her husband when he died. As she grew older and frailer, she spent more and more of her days there, sitting in the open doorway of her one-room house.

A powerful neighbor was watching Mary age, and he made plans to quietly seize her little patch of land when she died. He was a wealthy traditional healer in their village, and well known in the community for his influence.

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