KAMPALA – The Uganda Child Rights NGO Network – UCRNN has regretted the growing reports of physical, sexual and emotional violence in homes, communities and schools involving children.
Recently, social media was awash with a video of a mother brutally assaulting her own 10-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl who was defiled by a teacher.
Speaking to the media at the launch of a status report about violence to children in homes on Tuesday at their office at ministers’ village in Ntinda, UCRNN revealed that corporal punishment is still practiced in many schools as a mode of ‘discipline’ despite being banned by law.
Damon Wamara, the Network Executive Director said that while the Ugandan Penal Code Act provides for death as the punishment for defilement (para, 129(1)), this has not been enforced.
“Some offenders bribe their way out of prison and continue to traumatize victims within the community. Physical violence includes in called for excess slapping, beating, punching and kicking while Sexual violence includes defilement, rape, child pornography and fondling.”
According to a report, the “2018 Uganda Violence Against children survey”, four in ten girls (44%) and six in ten boys (59%) ages 13-17 experienced physical violence in the last year, while 3/4 of Ugandan children had experienced violence in childhood”, while of 18-24-year-old Ugandans, one in three girls (35%) and one in six boys.
Data also revealed that 17% reported experiencing sexual violence during their childhoods. In the past year, children ages 13-17 years, one in four girls (25%) and one in ten boys (11%) reported sexual violence.
Further, according to a 2021 report from Joining Forces for Africa “Protecting children during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, 61.4% of children had experienced physical or psychological aggression from guardians in the month of October to November 2020.
Statistics from the Uganda Child Helpline (UCHL) for the period 2020-2021, showed physical violence on boys to be over 85% cases as one of the most reported forms of violence.
Uganda is a signatory to the UNCRC, ACRWC & is a pathfinder country on ending Violence Against Children. The Constitution of Uganda 1995, Article 34 provides for the rights of children to be cared for and protected. The Children Act 2016, as amended (Cap 59, Laws of Uganda) enhances the protection of children from all forms of violence. In addition, the Penal Code Act – Cap 120 (as amended) establishes physical and sexual assault as an offence and spells out penalties for perpetrators of such actions.
UCRNN says that Physical and Sexual Violence have dire consequences on the lives of children, including death, physical maiming, trauma among many others.
“In addition, it is proven that child victims of violence may also use violence to resolve problems in the future. We need to do more to end all forms of violence against children,” said Mr. Wamara.
Now, the Network has called upon the Government to strengthen child protection structures at all levels including the recruitment and adequate facilitation of Probation and Social Welfare officers (PSWOS) and Community Development Officers (CDOs) at the district and sub-county levels.
“20% of districts still don’t have PSWOs in place and those that have are not well resourced.”
They also want the Government to ensure the continued enforcement of the laws to eliminate all forms of violence against children in institutional settings and extend this to all places including homes, with monitoring and prosecution of offenders.
According to them, the Government and development partners should popularise the National Parenting Guidelines nationally right to the community level. “MaLSO Parents and caregivers use their hands to nurture, support, and guide children instead of using them for violence.”
“We call on everyone to rally behind the Hands4Good Campaign to end physical violence against children.”
Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) is a coalition of 150 child-focused organisations, including community-based, national, and international NGOs working for the welfare and rights of children in Uganda.
About the Hands4Good campaign
Hands4Good is a social behaviour change campaign focusing on ending physical violence in homes. The campaign is being ran by the Joining Forces Alliance, with funding from the European Union. The nine-month campaign is working with communities to end physical violence in homes. Using the hand as a moniker, the campaign will challenge parents/caregivers to use their hands to nurture, guide and develop children and not to abuse them.