KAMPALA — A local rights organization, Make a Child Smile, has reignited the fight against human sacrifice with its latest effort focusing on sensitization campaign throughout the country.
Make a Child Smile has previously spearheaded campaigns on ending modern slavery and fights against human rights trafficking.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Alex Ssembatya, the organisation’s Executive Director said that there is currently a notable increase in child sacrifice following the reopening of schools as well as the full reopening of the economy.
“Since the lock down ended, in only one month, as an organization, we have registered 5 cases where children have been killed in a way of Child sacrifice. Other sister organisations have also registered a number of cases within this short period,” Ssembatya said.
Child sacrifice in Uganda is more common than authorities acknowledge. Children disappear frequently, murdered or mutilated by witch doctors as part of ceremonial ritual.
The practice is rooted in the belief that blood sacrifice can bring fortune, wealth and happiness.
The “purer” the blood, the more potent the spell, making innocent children a target. Witch doctors look for children without marks or piercings, so many parents pierce their children’s ears at birth and get their boys circumcised in an effort to protect them.
Children are either abducted from, or in some cases actually given to, witch doctors by relatives out of desperation for money.
The rituals involve the cutting of children and the removal of some body parts, often facial features or genitals. These brutal acts are done while the child is still alive, and few survive.
The human rights defender highlighted that the children are now being targeted when they are going to or leaving school hence the rise in child sacrifice yet during the lockdown, the vice was low.
“I believe it has gone high and its time for all players and stakeholders to rise up and act against this vice. We should all come out as a community, legislators and every one to use our positions to fight against child sacrifice trend that is on the rise,” Ssembatya noted.
Ssembatya revealed that as such, the organization is to launch a sensitization campaign against Human Trafficking in general and child sacrifice/ child murder which starts as child kidnap.
“We are launching this campaign from Busia on 15th March, 2022 and it will cover the entire Eastern region, that is; Karamoja, Jinja, Kamuli, Mbale and all other districts within the region. This is where most of the kidnapped children are picked from,” Ssembatya said.
He explained that majority of the trafficked girls are from the Eastern region who end up being trafficked to Nairobi and later Somalia.
“We realized that these need a lot of sensitization so that they know the dangers of being trafficked from one country to another. We want to train people on how they can fight for themselves so that they can easily identify a trafficker who has come among them in form of promising them jobs,” Ssembatya explained.
He added that, “At the end of the sensitization campaign, we want the participants to have understood the trends of human trafficking and how they can involve themselves in ending the vice. The campaign will run throughout the year and we shall be traversing the entire country moving from one district to another.”
The campaign shall be conducted in schools both primary and secondary, tertiary institutions, through community meetings to sensitize parents and other guardians equipping them with preventive measures.
Ssembatya appreciated partner organisations as such Project Rescue Children (PRC), End Modern Slavery (EMS) among others for rallying behind the sensitization campaign through offering all the necessary support.
He appealed to government to as well come out and offer support to Civil Society Organizations that are fighting against these crimes noting that NGOs alone can’t do much in ending the vice in Uganda.