Dr. Caroline Adoch was awarded a Doctor of Laws (LL.D) yesterday, Monday 23rd May 2022 during the first day of Makerere University’s 72nd Graduation Ceremony. Dr. Adoch became the first female to be awarded a Doctor of Laws (LL.D) of Makerere University in the institution’s100 year history. Her doctoral thesis was titled ‘Access to Gender Justice in Uganda: A Feminist Analysis of Experiences of Rape victims in the Reporting and Prosecution processes’’. She was supervised by Professor Sylvia Tamale and Professor Christopher Mbazira. Dr. Adoch shared her background, experiences and inspiration in an interview and highlights are captured below.
Q: Who is Caroline Adoch?
A: I am a Ugandan female; I work at Makerere University School of Law as an Assistant Lecturer. I joined the Makerere University Service in 2012 as a Teaching Assistant. My education background: I attended primary school at St. Agnes Catholic Girls’ Boarding Primary School Naggalama, Uganda; Secondary school at Mount St. Mary’s Namagunga (emerged as national best student in her year for A’Level exams). Attended University of Dar es Salaam for Bachelor of Laws (LL. B) graduating as best student of my class 2004-2007. I was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to study for a Master of Laws (LL.M) at University of Cambridge, United Kingdom from 2009-2010.
Q: What inspired you to study Law?
A: I have always wanted to be a lawyer as far as I can remember. However, I almost missed the calling; my Dad passed on the first day of my O level exams. I didn’t want to give my guardians the burden of paying tuition for a four-year course. My only hope to access University education was through government sponsorship. I wasn’t sure I would qualify for Law. I therefore applied for a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration with a belief that I would qualify for the programme on government sponsorship.
When results were released I was the best student; I was admitted to study Social Work and Social Administration at Makerere University. However, because I also qualified for change of programme to LL. B, I applied to change programme of study. The in-charge in the Academic Registrar’s Office advised that I qualified for the Inter University Council for East Africa exchange programme. I applied and was admitted to study LL. B at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and here we are. Laughs!
Q: What was your experience completing your Doctorate at Makerere University while teaching?
A: I joined Makerere University as a Teaching Assistant in 2012 because that was the only available opening. With support of the then Director of HURPEC Professor Joe Oloka Onyango, I was shortly promoted to Assistant Lecturer. I have taught courses including Human Rights, Public International Law, Administrative Law and Constitutional Law.
A couple of years ago I was offered a scholarship to study for a Doctor of Laws in Canada but I decided to stay at Makerere University. Why? I always tell people the School of Law is a good Law School with a great faculty, so why not me.
It’s been a challenge though, considering the student numbers that we teach and the scripts for marking. Creating a balance between teaching and studying calls for commitment. I wish to thank my supervisors and Doctoral Committee for the support through my journey. I also take this opportunity to thank Prof. Sylvia Tamale who was my main supervisor for the mentorship and encouragement. Prof. Tamale was so committed and supportive.
I sponsored myself which is quite expensive but I am happy I managed to do. I also thank Makerere University for the one-year tuition waiver. I think more years could have been given but the process to get the waiver approved is challenging.
Q: Why did you decide to study rape?
A: It is my conviction that rape is a big issue for women and girls. The fear of rape defines so many parameters of the lives of women and girls. When girls are young, we are warned about sitting, movements and company with the male because of the worry for parents regarding safety for the girl-child against sexual abuse and violence. Girls and women bear a huge responsibility and shame when they are raped. I therefore felt it was not only an interesting study area but also important.
Q: Do you have any advice for the girl child and the Makerere University?
A: To the University, I wish to say, at 100 years we shouldn’t be talking about ‘firsts’ in terms of opportunities. As an institution providing an enabling environment and opportunities for women should be intentional.
To students and more especially the girl child, I genuinely believe academic excellence matters; the class of degree awarded is very important. Always strive for the best, remain focused and work hard, be imaginative, have dreams and visions even when the odds seem impossible.
Q: What next?
A: I look forward to paying forward the support from my supervisors and colleagues through this journey; this I hope to do through supervising other doctoral students. It is good that while I was the first female to complete the Doctor of Laws at Makerere University School of Law, many are currently registered and more will graduate in the coming years.