Ugandan TV footage of Ingrid Turinawe's breast being groped by police officer
Ugandan TV footage of Ingrid Turinawe's breast being groped by police officer YouTube Screengrab

Following the sexual assault of female politician Ingrid Turinawe by Ugandan police, activists have set up a campaign to push for reform.

Turinawe, head of the women's league of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), was in her car when the incident took place.

As police attempted to arrest her, a male officer caught on camera by Ugandan TV could be seen repeatedly squeezing her breast.

The Ugandan Police Force (UPDF) initially denied the assault took place, but eventually revised its position after the footage was aired and issued a report on the incident. In it, the police said that Turinawe was arrested by four female officers and that her breast was grabbed by accident "in the heat of the moment".

The police's reaction angered Ugandan activists and several protests were held to denounce the sexual assault of women by members of the security forces.

Ugandan filmmaker Zubedah Nankufa has now launched a global campaign on for the inspector general of police in Uganda, major general Kale Kayihura,to implement sexual abuse sensitivity training programs for the country's police forces.

More than 42,000 people have now signed a petition backing the campaign Ugandan Police: Stop Sexually Assaulting Women.

The police have since issued an apology to Turinawe, but it appears to have been too little too late and they have remained under fire for continuing to claim that she was arrested for dangerous driving and that her breast was touched by accident.

The report identified Alinda Irene as a the police constable who grabbed Turinawe's breast. The WPC told the team investigating the incident that "it was not her intention to harm, humiliate or violate the dignity of Ms Turinawe, and that the touching of her breast was more a result of her awkward position and the heat of the moment, than any deliberate design to harm her".

While the report admits that "touching the breast of Ms Turinawe was unnecessary, inappropriate and amounted to professional misconduct on the part of the officer", their findings otherwise conflict with the images on the footage broadcast by NTV Uganda.

"The claim that this was an 'accident' is easily refuted by the video footage itself. The police have always lied and distorted facts about the sexual abuse female protesters frequently endure. But this time, something different has happened - there is evidence," said Nanfuka, who started the campaign for reform.

Nanfuka, who has also worked with girls targeted by Joseph Kony's Lords of Resistance Army (LRA), stressed the urgency of the issue.

"It is unfortunate to see the UPDF use sexual harassment tactics that are also being used by groups such as the LRA, as it sends the wrong message. Ingrid Turinawe is not an isolated case," Nanfuka said, emphasising that, for years, the country has been invaded by militias that target women and children.

The LRA wreaked havoc by attacking villagers in northern Uganda over more than two decades.

"I spoke to several women who were victims of the LRA. They were kidnapped by the group and forced into rebels' activities. They explained to me that rebels would divide the girls they had captured. Those who were physically the most developed were used as wives, while those whose bodies were not as womanly would be used as soldiers," Nanfuka said.

"When they returned to their villages and families, they were often rejected and seen as impure, tainted. They had difficulties getting married and people often spoke badly of them. Many blamed the girls - they blamed the girls for being raped. "

Although the LRA has now left Uganda and moved to neighbouring countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic, the UPDF has assembled a special force to hunt down the insurgents, a move backed by the United States.

"Uganda's society still functions on a patriarchal basis, with men being taught from an early age that they are superior. Boys are often encouraged to do better than girls and are prioritised when it comes to education. It is going to take a long time to change this sexist behaviour," Nanfuka said.

Despite the difficulties ahead, she remains determine to continue her fight for women's and girl's rights.

"I have dedicated my life to raising awareness of how women and girls are abused by men in uniform and I'm energised by the possibility that the police will have to respond now that more than 42,000 people from all around the world have watched the video and signed my campaign on," she added.