- Unmarried pregnant women landed on Punishment Island. Many of them could not swim, so they died of starvation or despair when they tried to leave the island.
- Some managed to survive. Poor men who could not pay the dowry could choose a shameful girl and marry her, thus saving her from imminent death.
- Only women were punished. The men who made them pregnant did not face any consequences
- In other parts of Uganda, pregnant servants were pushed off a cliff or tied to a tree in the forest to let wild animals eat.
- More stories of this type can be found here
Heaven is a witness to hell
Lake Bunyoyi, consisting of 29 islands, is located in southeastern Uganda. One of them, the island of Kara, known to the locals as Acampene, was a place of exile for single pregnant women at the beginning of the last century.
Mudy Acampene is small. It is only 20 square meters. Interestingly, the island may soon cease to exist as it will be swallowed by the lake’s waters. The locals claim that the spirits of the abandoned girls there take revenge on him and literally eat him. Near the lake you can feel the wild nature of Africa. Zebras and monkeys live in the area. About 200 species of birds live on the islands in the lake, which is why it is called the reservoir – Bunyonyi means “the home of many small birds.”
Surprisingly, the lake, which measures about 60 square kilometers, is considered the safest in Africa, despite being the second deepest lake on the Black Continent (about 40 meters deep). It is also considered safe because no behemoths or crocodiles live there.
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On the border between Rwanda and Uganda lives a tribe called Bakiga. mountain men. According to their culture, the value of a woman was determined by her virginity. Until the first half of the twentieth century, a pregnant woman from this tribe was severely punished. Such a woman, sometimes a teenage girl, disgraced not only herself but also her family. He not only humiliated her, but also deprived her of the dowry that her future husband would give her, and paid his wife’s money with the help of cattle.
Premarital sex, or rather its pregnancy, resulted in his family being robbed and deprived of great wealth. There should have been punishment for sin. It is better to warn other women. When the truth about the girl’s different situation came to light, the tribal council sentenced her to exile in front of the whole village. It should be noted that the man responsible for the pregnancy did not bear any responsibility.
At the time of sentencing, the convict’s father or brother took the guilty woman to Fine Island and left her there. Most of the “criminals” died of starvation because they could not swim, and thus could not return to land. They would either starve to death or die in the depths of the lake that ate them as they tried to cross it.
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Since the Black Island was a small, muddy piece of land, with only one tree and only grass growing there, as you might guess, the abandoned woman there had no chance of surviving. There is no point in looking for food or hunting that he can hunt. The climate was not good for him either. It is not as hot here as in other parts of the country due to the surrounding mountains. The trees can provide minimal shade because the nights can be cool and there is no place to shelter on a hot day.
This cruel practice of allowing pregnant and unmarried women to die was cultivated in the 19th century, although it was officially banned by colonizers and missionaries. Finally, this tradition ended in the first half of the 20th century, when the clergy came to these areas and began to spread Christianity.
The only way to save me … is a wedding
Today, the island of Kara is an attraction for tourists who come to Uganda not only to get to know the region, but also to see with their own eyes a place that puts an end to the lives of so many people. However, those who wait for Acampen to be covered with bones and even whole skeletons will be disappointed. As already mentioned, many women could not swim, but tried to leave the island and died in the depths of the lake.
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It so happened that a woman was saved from death by a poor man, and it was impossible for her to marry a virgin. Under normal circumstances, he would not be able to pay for his future wife, but he saved her from death and got her “for free.” He just went to the island and chose his lover.
It also happened that pregnant women saved their lovers. Such a couple must leave the society and start a new life outside it.
The last of the exiles, the last of the survivors. The story of Mauda Kyitaragabirwe
One of the survivors of the exile is Mauda Kyitaragabirve. The woman still lives near the lake and is considered one of the last survivors on Peninsula Island. His story was quoted on the BBC.
When she was 12, her parents learned that she was pregnant. As usual, his brother took him to the island and left him there. The girl did not eat there for four days. In an interview with the station, he admitted that he was very hungry and cold. He almost died there.
On the fifth day, a fisherman came to the island and took the woman home to marry her. When James Kigendere offered to help her, she thought he was trying to deceive her. Finally, he was convinced that he would not hurt her. When a man took a woman to his hut, it became a rumor, but over time it … became a tourist destination, and now tourists regularly come to his house.
Mauda and James, who died in 2001, had six children. Kyitaragabirw never gave birth to a child who was sent to the island. It was still too early when her parents found out she was pregnant. In an interview with the BBC, the woman claimed that she had been beaten by her family and that a child had been born.
One survivor of the island of Punishment admitted in his memoirs that it was an old custom to leave pregnant girls on the island. Mauda, a 12-year-old boy, knew the consequences of such a pregnancy.
Decades passed before the woman, who saw Acampen reconciled with her family, was believed to be the last. Mauda claims that after he became a Christian, he forgave everyone, even his brother, who put him in a canoe, took him to the island and put him there. Kyitaragabirw also commented on his thoughts on relationships and extramarital pregnancies. She said she had three daughters and would not condemn or punish any of them if they became pregnant before marriage. – It can happen to any woman. If she has a daughter today, her family will look after her. The people involved were blind.
Today, the woman is about 80 years old, but her family considers her older. He was born in this part of Uganda before birth certificates became commonplace, so no one is sure of his true age. Her granddaughter Tyson Ndamwesiga, a local guide, says her grandmother is … 106 years old!
Other places of execution
It should be added that starvation was one of the only punishments in Uganda that could affect a pregnant woman. Some communities tied the woman to a tree and let her into the wild. In the Rukungiri region, a father or a brother would take a disgraced relative to the Kisiizi waterfall and throw him off a cliff.
Interestingly, this ritual punishment was stopped one day when one of the girls … dragged her relative! Although some women managed to escape from Peninsula Island, none of them survived when they pushed her off a high cliff.
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