Numerous media reports have shown an increase in the rate of sexual violence incidence especially defilement ever since the lockdown was effected in March this year.
This is being attributed to the closure of schools which meant longer periods of minors staying home and the potential perpetrators taking advantage of the situation. Some tense cases have presented with the sex offenders being the ‘should-be’ caretakers of the victims.
However, there are other key contributors leading to sexual violence like weak laws as explained by Josh Mayanja, the Executive Director of Teenage Mothers and Child Support Foundation (TMCS).
“We have a problem in our country right now. There’s a lot of laxity in law enforcement by the government. If the police, who are supposed to be protecting are the ones abusing the children, I question myself where we are going,” he said.
According to him, policies on defilement should be enforced to instill fear among defilers, as it was the case in the past years.
“While we were growing up, the law of defilement was very active and today it is no more. Those days when a parent found you standing with a girl, they would warn us that we would be arrested. We need to bring back that fear among Ugandans. They need to know that that law works,” he said.
Mayanja also argued that when people are very relaxed, they take such cases to police, where they are sometimes not given justice.
To him, “if there’s a way we can go back and restructure our policies and also try to push the people responsible to enforce these laws, it could be of help.”
Mayanja also attributed the high rate of child abuse to lack of morals and a huge gap between the parents and the children which creates a communication barrier, and as such, some situations get out of hand without the responsible parties noticing.
Mayanja noted that it was expected, with the quarantine period, that parents would create more time and bond with their children, which unfortunately has not been the case.
“Everyone being home, we expected that most parents were going to give more time to their children, which they didn’t as they are frustrated since most of them lost jobs,” he said.
“We have lost our culture and parents are so much interested in pampering their children, something which was not the case in the traditional society. Most children don’t even know to what extent their rights go. There are also parents who don’t want their children to be disciplined claiming they are observing their rights,” he added.
Mayanja also emphasized that the household counselling on what’s okay and what’s overboard as concerns relations with family members is key and a guiding tool for the young people who are sometimes lured into certain acts by those they trust and regard as family.
He called upon other Civil Society Organisations to act accordingly.
“We are calling on Civil Society Organisations and other partners on board to look at where we have gone wrong. There is need to do more sensitization,” concluded.