The High court has granted bail to Brian Isiko, a student of YMCA College of Business Studies, Jinja, who was convicted of cyber harassment and offensive communication.
Isiko had been granted a 2-year jail term for stalking Kabarole Woman MP Sylvia Rwabwogo, by continuously sending her text messages and calling her. But Isiko challenged the sentence by Buganda Road Grade One Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu and asked that he is released on bail, pending hearing of his appeal.
In his application, Isiko stated that his custodial sentence would deny him an opportunity to complete his course at YMCA. This morning, he was granted a cash bail of Shs 500,000. His sureties; Grace Regan Muganza, a retired UPDF officer and Wako Godfrey, the assistant academic registrar of Kyambogo University, were each bonded on non-cash bail of Shs 5 million.
Presiding High court judge, Jane Frances Abodo said that given the fact that Isiko has filed an appeal against the sentence, he retains the presumption of innocence. He added that the reasons presented by his lawyers; Katuntu and Co. Advocates, were substantial to warrant bail.
He, however, was cautioned against contacting MP Rwabwogo until the matter is dissolved completely. He is expected to report to the registrar of High court Criminal Division every third Friday of the month.
Meanwhile, Isiko's trial and conviction has sparked off mixed reactions from a cross section of Ugandans, many arguing that the sentence was too harsh for the student while others believe that such youngsters need to be tamed as a way of addressing sexual and gender-based violence.
Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, a professor of women and gender studies at Makerere University applauded Rwabwogo for taking action against Isiko's antics, which with no doubt tantamount to sexual harassment and abuse of personal and private life. Prof Bantebya says Isiko could have drawn courage from a patriarchal society of men who claim entitlement on women's bodies
"If his claims were for love, the moment the MP said, she is not interested he should have stopped there. He shouldn’t have continued harassing and sending messages because he is drawing from grounds that he’s a man… He should have stopped. That history of saying when a woman says no, she means yes, we have moved on. That is so many centuries ago." she said.
Fred Kindi, a lecturer of philosophy at Makerere University says Isiko could have acted out of infatuation. However, Kindi says if it's genuine that Isiko was looking out for love, there was no reason for him to be prosecuted. He said stalking is not only done by men but women as well.
"Yes men are also stalked but the threats presented by a lady stalking a man may not be taken seriously like a threat of a man stalking a woman. Otherwise those cases are there because of the culture still men fear to talk about it that a certain man is stalking me. People will even laugh at you," said Kindi.
Lauben Muhabuzi, the executive director of Men's Forum against Domestic Violence says that the country doesn't have clear laws on how to date a woman and he thinks that there could have been something that intrigued Rwabwogo to take Isiko to court.