In an exposé, CNN interviewed five women in their late teens and early twenties who were all wards of Bery’s Place, a children’s home in Kalangala, Uganda, set up by German national Bernhard “Bery” Glaser and his wife in 2006, who alleged that Bery had sexually abused and in several cases raped them while under his care. They accuse Glaser of performing invasive “vaginal examinations”, having young girls massage him while he was half-naked, and requiring them to sleep in his bed on a rotating “sleeping schedule”. If any of the girls spoke out, Glaser threatened to cast them back out onto the street, compelling many to remain quiet and even defend Glaser after police raided his compound in February 2019.
That same February, Glaser voluntarily turned himself in. He was formally charged on April 19, 2019, with nineteen counts of human trafficking, seven counts of aggravated defilement, one count of indecent assault, and one count of operating an unauthorized children’s home. Hundreds of children’s homes operate illegally in Uganda, due in part to a lack of oversight and loose regulations governing foreign investments and volunteers. Children’s homes must be registered with Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development.
Glaser is currently residing at the Uganda Cancer Institute as he waits on a hearing over his bail application. His trial has been postponed nine times on request of his legal defense team, claiming among others that he is unfit to stand trial because he has cancer. In a WhatsApp statement sent to CNN, Glaser’s defense attorney denied his client’s involvement in any kind of human trafficking or sexual assault.
Why It Matters
Stories like these are crucial in bringing attention to unscrupulous charities and aid organizations operating in developing countries. Lack of oversight and strained resources make it difficult to completely shut down manipulative institutions like Bery’s Place, but it is an issue that must be met if the African Union and its member states wish to meet UN Millennium Development Goals on gender equality and demonstrate the strength of their convictions to improve the lives and social standing of women and girls. These revelations also illustrate the necessity for feminism to be a cross-racial, cross-class, and international movement to truly be effective. A German national allegedly assaulting young Ugandan women, many of whom are desperately poor, affirms the reality that gendered and sexual abuse is not isolated to any one part of the globe.