High rates of sexual abuse of minors in Uganda ‘a tip of the iceberg’

Parents and children rights organisations in Uganda have urged the authorities to act following an upsurge in cases of sexual abuse of minors.

The African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) said it had received 17 cases of minors who were raped in just two weeks.

According to the country’s annual crime and traffic safety report for 2011 7,690 cases of rape were recorded that year.

“If we are to go by the police statistics, at least 21 children are defiled everyday in Uganda,” said Marlon Agaba, an ANPPCAN information officer. “These reported cases are however a tip of an iceberg as many cases aren’t reported due to a multiplicity of factors.”

“One absurd case is of a seven year old girl who was defiled and her uterus damaged, she is currently recovering at a Kampala Hospital.”

“Another case is one involving a Pastor in Mukono who was caught in a lodge with a 17 year old girl.

“What is very disheartening is that most often the perpetrators of these crimes are people who have responsibility over children like parents, teachers, religious leaders and guardians.”

Agaba said despite the fact that the media had been awash with cases of child sexual abuse, especially rape and indecent assault, more people were being caught on the wrong side of the law.

“Many of our children are defiled every day,” said Irene Nakato a parent who works at Kampala market. “Some men defile children below 10 years because they think that such children do not have HIV/Aids.”

Two teachers were recently arrested in the eastern district of Ngora after they were caught in the act raping a 16 year old girl in their house. The girl was rescued by fellow students who broke into the house after hearing her screams.

Marlon said rape was the most common crime against children.

Since 2011, a total of 1,363 cases of rape have been investigated by ANPPCAN.

Bosco Okure, a parent said the increasing cases of abuse had seen many children contracting HIV.

“The high cases of sexual abuse have led to more children contracting HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases,” he said.

“It has also increased child pregnancies, early marriages and high school dropout rates. There need to be more tough laws with severe punishments in order to fight the vice.”