02 Jun 2014

Barefoot Ugandan lawyer educates citizens on human rights

Ugandan lawyer Gerald Abila has set up an organisation called Barefoot Law to inform the majority of the population, some 36m people, who live outside the capital of Kampala, about their rights and obligations.

Jiri Flogel

All the advice is free, and is provided by Mr Abila and volunteers. He travels around the country and also answers questions through Skype, Twitter, Facebook, a 24-hour phone service and SMS. He said: ‘Ninety-seven percent of lawyers in Uganda are within the capital. So 97 percent of lawyers serve a population of 2 million people, and the remaining three percent is left to serve a population of around 36 million. So how do you overcome such challenges using technology?’

Mini skirts

Giving advice has become more important as more controversial legislation has been put in place, including anti-gay laws, anti-pornography laws and a law which criminalising the intentional transmission of HIV. Some of these laws can be misinterpreted. The anti-porn law was wrongly said by the media to include a ban on the wearing of mini skirts. Mr Abila said: ‘There were instances of stripping women, and the women were fearing to then go and report to the police because they thought it was an offense to wear a miniskirt.  So we wrote a post, and we advised the ladies if you can identify anyone that has done that to you, then they could be charged with indecent assault and a number of offenses.’ The post on this issue was viewed 18,000 times on the day that it was put up, he said. Source: Voice of America