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Uganda, 25 February 2015: Government and partners develop National Action Plan to end child sacrifice

By Proscovia Nakibuuka Mbonye

The story of an 8 year old girl that was kidnapped, brutally murdered and private parts extracted while his elder brother looked on, left attendees at the national symposium on child sacrifice and mutilation of children speechless.

The symposium was organised by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development with support from HumaneAfrica, UNICEF, Kyampisi Child Ministries (KCM) and ANPPCAN Uganda.

“After killing the girl, the kidnapper turned to the brother, hacked him on the head, drained his blood and left him to die. However he was rescued, rushed to the hospital but still lives in fear and is traumatised for life,” narrated Mr. Peter Sewakiryanga, from KCM, one of the civil society organisations that shared experiences of their work in the area of prevention and response to human and child sacrifice.

Speaking at the symposium, Ms. Silvia Pasti, the UNICEF Chief of Child Protection said it is a pity that in the 21st century, children in Uganda are being sacrificed to obtain wealth. “We need to join hands to eliminate child sacrifice to allow children enjoy a childhood free of fear,” she explained.

Unfortunately, the reality is, child sacrifice is still happening in Uganda. Children continue to live in constant fear of being kidnapped and sacrificed and their body parts, blood and tissue forcibly removed as part of the rituals for healing, dealing with misfortunes or even forestalling unfortunate events. Even those who survive are trapped in fear, stigma, low self-esteem, depression and some mentally ill.

Police records indicate that cases of child mutilation also commonly known as child sacrifice linked to ritual murders have increased since 2006 with ten cases registered in 2013 alone. In 2008, 25 cases of suspected ritual killings were reported, 16 of which were children. In addition, 37% of U-reporters that responded, noted that they had heard about or seen a case of child sacrifice in their district.

There is also a growing concern among the public and child protection practitioners of the persistent reports of child sacrifice and child mutilation and trafficking which are manifested through kidnaps, abduction, murder and disappearance of children hence the need to act now and not tomorrow.

“Child sacrifice is the worst form of abuse one can subject a child to,” noted Mr. James Kabogozza, Assistant Commissioner for Children Affairs at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

When Uganda ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, it made a promise to protect all children from any form of violence and harm. However, today many children are still subjected to abuse, torture and some mutilated as the perpetrators walk free. Children not only feel trapped but lose trust from the ones they love and survivors of this gruesome act left with no option but to live with physical and emotional scars for life!

“A lot has been said but children continue to die, the time to act is now. Let us put an end to child sacrifice today, stressed Mr. Kabogozza.

The symposium that brought together various stakeholders ranging from development partners, donors and the academia drafted the national action plan, an overarching guidance with concrete plans that will be utilised by the Government and partners in their efforts to wipe out children sacrifice. The Government was urged to ensure the plan is implemented as well as mainstream child sacrifice prevention and response interventions in the existing child protection programmes and initiatives.

“The National Action Plan is a step towards curbing the vice that is compromising the protection of children,” mentioned Hon. Sulaiman Madada the State Minister for the Elderly and Disabled, while closing the symposium. He called on the public to utilise the Uganda Child Helpline on 116 to reports all cases of child abuse and violence.

Madada launched a journal on child sacrifice compiled by Makerere University and a report titled ‘A Social Norms Approach for Reducing Child Mutilation and Child Sacrifice in Uganda’, by HumaneAfrica.

Wiping out child sacrifice requires concerted efforts of all actors. “Increased sensitization of communities will ensure change in mind sets of those who still believe in sacrificing our young ones. We need to work together to protect every Ugandan child,” Ms. Pasti concluded.

 

 
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