By Anne Mugisa and David Ssemakula
A child is mutilated and their body parts removed every week in Uganda, a new report has revealed.
It added that the disturbing fact is that community members are driving the body parts demand through their beliefs, including that the organs in traditional medicine, will solve their problems.
The issues those using body parts believe would be solved include overcoming illness, gaining wealth, obtaining blessings from ancestors, protection, initiation, assisting with conception and dictating the gender of the child.
The number of reported mutilations per year has been rising, the report showed.
The majority of the victims fall within the age bracket of 3-18 years although adults have also fallen victim to the crime. The parts are cut off when the vic¬tims are still alive.
Some of the victims are preg¬nant women who are cut for their foetuses as specified by witchdoctors.
The parts, according to re¬spondents who purportedly participated in the kidnap and mutilation, fetched sh500,000 for children’s parts and sh200,000 for an adult’s parts.
The report pointed out that some of the respondents con¬fessed to having acted as agents as well as participating in mutilation of children and that the victims had to be alive when being mutilated.
The targeted body parts, ac¬cording to the report, include the tongue, genitals, blood, legs, heads, hair, throat, heart, fingers, hands, eyes and arms. The others are breasts, intes¬tines, brain, ears, liver, teeth, kidneys, nose, jaws, nails, belly buttons, buttocks and torso.
The confessions of agents were also followed by those of people who said they have used the body parts given to them by witchdoctors to solve their problems.
They said many of those de¬manding the body parts are rich people in urban areas who bury the organs in the founda¬tions of buildings which they construct.
The report was made follow¬ing a research conducted in 25 communities in different parts of Uganda.
According to the report, com¬munities feel let down by the Police who they say are either unable or unwilling to respond. Respondents said the victims’ relatives are usually asked for money by the Police to have their cases investigated.
However the deputy Police spokesperson, Vicent Sekatte denied the accusations, saying the force had established a full department to specifically deal with the crime.
The research was carried out between June and September last year in the districts of Kiry-andongo, Masindi, Wakiso, Jin¬ja, Mayuge, Mukono, Masaka, Kalungu and Buikwe.
Data was also collected us¬ing Unicef’s U-report, in which young people used a free SMS-based system to speak out on what is happening in their communities.
“Uganda has many cultures. We want to understand what kind of norms drive these actions."