n today’s society, bras have emerged as a social phenomenon, a statement that allows women to express a side that otherwise remains hidden.
In 2012, Barbara Allimadi became popular for her bra, not because she wanted to entice young girls and women into sex appeal, but rather because she used her bra for a mission that symbolized power, respect, and dignity for the rights of victimized women.
Allimadi was among many women who co-organized a protest resulting from their outrage over the conduct of a Ugandan police officer who was caught on video violating the breast of political activist Ingrid Turinawe.
According to reports, Turinawe was driving to Nansana, a suburb of Kampala, to attend a political rally when law enforcement pulled her over. Accounts say Turinawe engaged in a confrontation that resulted in the officer grabbing her left breast.
Upon hearing the news, Allimadi, along with many female activists, marched to the Central Police Station, where in rebellion, the activities opened their shirts to reveal their bras in solidarity against police misconduct. The incident became known as the “bra protest” in Uganda.
Allimadi would tell the Daily Monitor. “We settled on the bra protest. We thought it would be most appropriate for what had happened. It’s not like we were saying we don’t respect ourselves. We were disgusted by what had been done.”
While Allimadi’s defiance during the rally was full force, she initially felt hesitation. “I realized that nothing we could do, other than the bra protest, would match the gravity of what had occurred,” she would say. She added, “I was seriously offended that a police force that is supposed to protect us had assaulted a woman in front of everyone. I had lost fear and respect for the police, and I was not afraid to show my bra.”
Allimadi along with many protesters were arrested after refusing to cover their bras. But shortly thereafter, they were released and no criminal charges were filed. Allimadi became the spokesperson for International Affairs Secretary of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT).
In April 2020, police in Kampala received a call that Allimadi, who was 48, was found dead in her home.
“The findings indicates that the deceased was found lying straight on her stomach with straight legs. The lying body shows she could have been in pain during her last breathe. There is no sign of struggle or injuries on the body,” said Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said at the time.
An autopsy report showed her death was due to pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs).
Since her death, a foundation has been formed that provides college and university scholarships to young girls in honor of Allimadi’s activism.