Rape and defilement are common crimes in Uganda. Some of the most secretive and guarded incidents happen between a parent and child as one mother told Brenda Nakayiwa.
My husband had sex with our daughter for over 10 years, One day, my neighbour asked to talk to me urgently and I wondered what the issue could be. She owns a salon where my daughters have been plaiting their hair since childhood.
When we met, she broke the news that changed my life forever. “I do not know how to say this, but I have known it for some time and did not tell you for fear of destroying your family,” she said.
She then spilled the beans and told me that my daughter was having an affair with her father. I could not believe it and I told her off. I assured her she was too evil and wanted to destroy my marriage.
However, she insisted that I open my eyes because the truth was written all over the two culprits.
I decided to carry out investigations. It dawned on me during dinner, when I watched my husband’s gestures to his daughter and vice versa. I started putting everything into perspective; she is her father’s favourite, they always go out together.
I controlled my emotions and later took my daughter for an outing. I asked her whether she loved me and she answered; “Mum what kind of question is that? Of course I love you.”
I then told her that I had discussed with her father and he confessed everything they had been doing and that I wanted to hear it from her. She was shocked, knelt down, held me tight and started crying that I forgive her.
I asked her when it all started and she broke my heart when she said it started when she was five years old. The betrayal and anger I had towards her suddenly turned into guilt for not protecting my girl at such an early age.
The climax of the pain was when I discovered that her father had helped her abort four times. I got her to break off the relationship, but I have chosen not to report the matter because of the shame it could bring to the family.
IT IS NOT FICTION
One of the most horrifying and disgraceful experiences is to be sexually abused by someone who was ordained by God and society to protect you.
Some parents have used their authority to force, trick or coerce their children into having sex with them. Although the girl child has suffered a great deal, it is important to note that the boy child suffers too.
According to the Uganda Police annual report, defilement was one of the leading crimes in 2010. Of the 7,564 cases registered, 12 were of incest. In 2009, they registered 7,360 defilement cases, of which 54 were of incest.
Atuhaire Maureen, the acting Commissioner of Child and Family Protection Unit in the Police, noted that people do not want to talk about it, but it is happening in their homes.
Such incidents are reported in the media, but few really believe they are true. In March 2005, a one Ssewanyana, a businessman and resident of Ndejje, Wakiso district, was jailed for raping and making his daughter pregnant. He started having sex with her when she was nine years of age, and continued until she was 22 when she escaped from home.
Ssewanyana is said to have made the daughter pregnant three times and forced her to abort.
New Vision on August 26, 2008 reported that James Kimera, 45, of Nateete (a Kampala suburb) defiled his 15-year-old daughter while her mother was in hospital. The family tried to conceal the case on grounds that Kimera was the sole breadwinner.
On October 16, 2008, Uganda woke up to another shocking headline in the New Vision entitled, “Man fathers four children with daughter.”
Ahmad Majwala Bbaale, 44, of Byuma zone in Kyazanga, was arrested after his daughter revealed in a Local Council meeting that her father started abusing her when she was 16 years old and he was the father of her four children of which two had died.
The meeting was called because the man’s elder son, Jamada Nsimbi, had complained that his father was defiling his other sister of 13 years. In his defense, Bbaale said: “If the mother has chosen to give them to me, what can I do?”
On July 8 2010, another story ran entitled, “Dad gets 27 years for defilement.” A court in Lira found one Moses Opio, a resident of Okululu village in Amugu sub-county in Alebtong district, guilty of defiling and infecting his nine-year-old daughter with HIV while her mother was away.
On May 26, 2010 New Vision published a story of Lauben Tumwebaze, a businessman in Biharwe, Nyamuyanja sub-county, Isingiro district, who allegedly defiled his 14-year-old daughter well knowing he was infected with HIV/AIDS and threatened to kill her if she ever reported him. The list is endless, not forgetting that unreported cases do exist.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE DO THIS?
Ibin Ssenkumbi, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, says some father-child defilement cases registered are because of family breakdown.
“They are common among single parents, where a mother leaves a child in her father’s care for a long time,” he says, adding that this kind of abuse has increased due to moral degeneration. “It is happening and sometimes by the least expected, smart and much respected people in society,” he said.
Susan Nalwoga, a counsellor and spokesperson of Ekisakaate, a youth mentoring programme in Buganda Kingdom, notes that some aggrieved parents defile the children as a way of revenge on the spouse, for instance when a wife denies her husband sex or walks out on him. She adds that the influence of drugs and alcohol has led to parent-child defilement.
“Some fathers become culprits because they never got involved in the actual upbringing of their children. They view the child as a potential partner instead,” Nalwoga reveals. She says for fear of HIV and other sexually transmitted deseases and mistrust of any other woman, some men turn to their own children.
“Some do it because of the immense power they have over the child. They threaten not to pay their school fees or to kill them when they refuse to succumb,” Nalwoga says.
REPERCUSSIONS OF SEX ABUSE
According to Nalwoga, people never completely heal from sexual abuse. “They can be counselled to put a smile on their faces, but they never forget. It may lead to trust and intimacy issues. Their relations are difficult because they give their spouses hard times,” she adds.
It may lead to family breakdowns. Very often, victims are blamed for causing trouble in families.
Some victims develop disorders like panic attacks, self-injury, addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, lack of trust, suicide, isolation, fears, promiscuity, low self esteem and eating disorders.
Children born of incestuous relationships stand higher risks of birth defects because they have similar genes.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A SEXUALLY ABUSED CHILD
Parents should understand their children’s emotions, weaknesses, abilities and behaviours. In case of any changes, they can notice.
Some common signs include pain, injuries or rotting in genital area, behaviour change, sudden fear and hate, depression, withdrawal, nightmares or sleeplessness, sudden bed wetting and sudden interest in sex.
“They should spend more time with their children, learn their habits, and tell them they are loved, so that they do not hear it from strangers. In return, children will also learn to trust and disclose everything to parents,” Nalwoga notes. She advises to censure TV programmes or certain literature as protection from pornography.
She adds that both parents should assume full responsibility of their children from childhood as it is the only way they will always perceive them as child, leaving no room for strange ideas.
During adolescence, parents should talk to their children about sex and encourage them to dress decently. “That is the age of development that girls tend look like their mother in their father’s eyes, so they need to be careful,” Nalwoga says.
Ssenkumbi advises parents to avoid leaving girls in care of a man for a long time, irrespective of the relationship.
HELPING THE VICTIM
Atuhaire advises victims to report to the Police urgently and get a PF3 file specifying medical checkup and treatment.
“Some people conceal the cases or report after weeks. It is important to do it immediately,” she adds. Police refers the victim to Health Center IVs, designated to carry out Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) which should be administered within 72 hours to prevent the victim from contracting HIV, UTIs and getting pregnant.
According to Atuhaire, the Police, with help of some NGOs, may withdraw the victim as a way of protecting them from intimidation by the culprit or preventing compromising the story as investigations go on.
She says parents should not confront the offender in the victim’s presence, but let the law take its course.
Nalwoga suggests that the victim has to see a trained counsellor for emotional help.