KAMPALA – Barely a day passes without the media reporting cases related to child sexual abuse in Uganda.
Reports indicate that a number of children are subject to defilement in their schools, homes among other places by their parents, relatives, teachers, and neighbours.
According to the Uganda Police Spokesperson Commissioner of Police (CP) Fred Enanga, most defilement suspects are relatives of the victims. “Most of the abuses are not by strangers, defilements come out of close relatives,” he told this reporter at his office in Naguru recently.
To co-relate the Police Spokesperson’s revelation, this writer interviewed 13-year-old Priscilla Atwooki (not real names), an orphan who lives on the streets in Kisenyi, a Kampala suburb. Atwooki says she was abused by her alcoholic uncle who she was staying with when she lost her parents.
“My uncle defiled me and said if I told anyone about it, he would kill me. That is why I decided to leave his home and come on the streets. I do not want to talk about it,” Atwooki said with deep emotions and tears in her eyes.
Mr. Enanga says the majority of children that are defiled are male although males too fall victim.
According to The Violence Against Children survey that was conducted by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in 2018, of the sexually abused children 35% are female while 17% are male.
Unfortunately, most incidences of defilement go unnoticed as victims do not report their abusers mostly due to intimidation or fear of being ‘shamed’.
The report shows that only 8% of girls and 5% of boys seek a service after experiencing sexual abuse.
Mr. Enanga says child neglect is one of the leading causes of defilement in the country.
“Cases of aggravated defilement are out of poor vigilance where you find a child is left to move around carelessly while naked,” he said.
He added that other causes of defilement include poverty, ignorance of the law, domestic challenges such as increased rate of divorce among others.
When asked on the ways of minimising defilement, Mr Enanga said parents should be conscious about their children and communities should be sensitised in addressing the factors that bring about defilement.
“Promoting fear for the crime through arresting the offenders and ensuring that they are punished under the law so that the message goes down to the would-be-offenders,” he emphasised.
Section 129 of the Penal Code Act defines defilement as the act of having sexual intercourse with a person below eighteen years of age. It fetches a maximum sentence of life imprisonment or death.
According to the 2017 annual crime report 14, 985 defilement cases were reported compared to 17,395 cases in 2016, thus a decrease by 14%; in total over 120,707 girls have been defiled in the last five years.