Like so many young women, Harriet fell in love and married. Her husband built a home on his family’s land in Uganda and they started a small, happy family of their own. There was no way Harriet could have known that she would soon be a widow with two small children.
A few months after her husband’s death, Harriet’s brother-in-law showed up at her door, demanding she leave her land. Not only did he want Harriet to leave, he wanted to claim the land as his own.
Armed with a machete, he cut down her crops and threatened to kill her on the spot.
Full of fear, Harriet took her small children and left her home to live with a relative. With no home and no land, she had no way to support herself.
“Sorrow continued in my heart so much,” she recalls as she thinks about those dark days of mourning her husband while enduring threats and abuse.
Sadly, Harriet’s heartbreaking story is not unique. Property grabbing is a common violent crime that sweeps widows and vulnerable poor populations into despair, poverty and homelessness.
Your support defends women like Harriet who are threatened with violence. Will you give today to end violence?
While Harriet worried about the future of her family, you sent us to take her case.
An officer working at the property grabbing desk of the local police station recognized that Harriet’s case was not progressing and alerted IJM. He knew to contact IJM because your support allows us to train police officers in Uganda to identify and investigate cases of property grabbing.
Not only was IJM able to put pressure on the justice system to continue pursuing the case, but an IJM investigator actually helped locate Harriet’s brother-in-law.
He was arrested and tried in court, and Harriet testified against him.
“I wasn’t telling lies,” Harriet said. “I was standing on the truth. I didn’t commit any wrong against him.”
By the end of the trial, her brother-in-law pleaded guilty to all charges and was extremely remorseful in court, saying “I swear, if I do anything or disturb her peace, please come and bring me back here and jail me.”
Harriet is now thriving, satisfied in the knowledge that the law has given her power and protection. She is growing maize, beans, coffee and sweet potatoes on her land, and her children are in school. Harriet wants them to study, grow to be healthy and happy, and to get good jobs.