The East African Photography Award which is open to citizens of Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda saw the top prize go to Ugandan activist and photographer DeLovie Kwagala for their story ‘Through the Cracks’ which talks about Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. DeLovie takes home a Canon EOS R with a 24-105mm lens and lens adapter.
Through the Cracks
While many structures have formed to counter the constant barrage of violence directed towards the LGBTIQ community from the outside, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is an internal subject that is left largely unaddressed within the community. The frequent rejection of gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation by families and broader society results in victims suffering in silence within these relationships, while public health campaigns by government and non-governmental organizations targeting intimate partner violence are often directed at cis-gendered heterosexual persons. LGBTIQ individuals fall through the cracks due to their exclusion from the messaging.
This means that members of the community do not always accurately identify their experiences as being abusive or requiring intervention. The possibility of access to services for support and shelter is further limited due to fears of secondary victimization by the same service providers that are meant to safeguard groups vulnerable to violence. Victims who do not fit the norm struggle in isolation, sometimes because the perpetrator doesn’t fit society’s imagined profile of a domestic abuser.
The global coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown brought about an increase in incidences of domestic violence, including within queer domestic spaces, while the limitations brought about by the pandemic in terms of commercial enterprise and movement meant that many people did not have much of a choice, being compelled to stay with their abusers to wait the lockdown out.
For LGBTIQ individuals living on the margins within a society with prevalent homophobia and transphobia, this means that systems of protection become new battlefields. As a victim myself, having gone through an intense amount of violence, both emotional and physical, I intend to surface and reflect on these muted journeys through the sharing of real-life stories. These images speak their owners’ truths without them being shamed, erased, silenced, invalidated, or canceled because a human that they love(d) and trusted became a site of violence, leaving them scrambling through the cracks.
Uganda Press Photo Award (UPPA)
*The names of my collaborators have been changed to protect them.