JULY 31, 2010: 16,000 Children Abused Last Year

16,000 Children Abused Last Year

SOURCE: The Monitor

By Flavia Nalubega

When Rosemary was separating from her husband Umaru, it did not occur to her that her two daughters, Ritah, 12 and Mary, 10 (not real names), would be defiled.

The girls claim that their father, started abusing them sexually just two months after their mother left them.

Medical examination done on Ritah proved that she was sexually abused. Fortunately, for Mary, the medical results showed that she was not defiled. However, the girl insists that her father on several occasions, attempted to defile her. The matter is still before court.

Police records show how the girls allegedly suffered silently in the hands of their father who reportedly threatened to behead them if they report him to authorities. It, however, reached a point when the girls could not hide their demise anymore and decided to inform the area LC1 chairperson. The police was then called and Umaru, a 29-year-old taxi driver, was arrested.

Even though the physical and psychological torture the girls underwent will take time to heal, they can for now solace in knowing that their father, if proven guilty, will pay for his crimes in the courts of law. Ritah's story is just one out of some 16,008 cases of child abuse recorded in 2009 countrywide.

A study done by African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), shows that 83 per cent cases of abuse were reported to the police, 15 per cent to ANPPCAN and 2 per cent to the print media. Mr Haruna Mawa, the information officer at ANPPCAN, says child abuse cases doubled last year compared to 2008, where about 7,360 were reported.

Child abuse includes; defilement, neglect, desertion, torture, child stealing, abortion, kidnap, infanticide, child sacrifice and child trafficking, among others.

Kasese District registered the highest cases of child abuse among the 10 districts scrutinised by ANPPCAN. It was followed by Kitgum District and Mukono, Apac, Jinja, Rakai, Kampala, Iganga and Arua.Kamuli District had the lowest cases of child abuse.

The volume of calls on the toll free helpline (0800111222) to report child abuse, increased to 6,181 up from 2,636 calls received in 2008.

Implement laws

This trend shows that despite the various interventions by a myriad of actors in the child welfare and protection sector, the number of children subjected to abuse is still unacceptably high.

ANPPCAN says there is urgent need to amend Section 43 of the Evidence Act to allow medical practitioners at a level of clinical officers to examine the victims of sexual abuse.

They also want the government to pass a law which regulates traditional medical practices in its entirety, so that rampart cases of child sacrifice which was at 29 last year, can be curbed.

The group also want an implementation of the Trafficking in Persons' Act which provides for life imprisonment for a person convicted of aggravated trafficking.

Increasing support to the police and district probation offices is another area that ANPPCAN feels the government should look into.

"The government should allocate resources to construct and facilitate specialised units for abused and vulnerable children in various police stations."

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