By Moses Walubiri
NEXT time you see a police officer recording a statement of a criminal nature, chances are that the offence will be defilement, according to Minister of State for Economic Monitoring, Henry Banyenzaki.
In a damning indictment of the current safety nets to protect children from sex predators, Banyenzaki on Friday lifted the lid on the plight of children daily facing the specter of sexual abuse – quite often at the hands of people meant to protect them.
The Rubanda West MP contends that sexual abuse of children is “silently ruining the country’s next generation,” expressing his displeasure at failure to implement the stringent laws against defilement.
“Half of criminal cases reported to police are about defilement of children. This means that the biggest number of crimes committed in this country is against children,” Banyenzaki said during a symposium tailored to making end of violence against children a core component of a post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era.
With many incidents of defilement in Uganda, especially in rural areas, hushed up as impoverished parents seek to make a quick buck from defilers; Banyenzaki contends “getting the true scale of sexual crimes against children is impossible”
The symposium under the auspices of Child Fund – an international organization dedicated to helping children in need - was aimed at lobbying legislators to support end to violence against children as one of the pillars to inform a post-2015 international framework.
Executive Director of AfriChild Centre, David Mugawe, said the cost of inaction in the face of a spate abuse of children in Uganda is “incalculable,” revealing that “over 90% of children in Uganda are considered vulnerable in one way or another.”
“You cannot achieve any development benchmarks when majority of the population is threatened,” Mugawe said at the symposium graced by Director of External Relations Child Fund International, Rory Anderson.
The grim statistics about the spate of sexual predation on children was confirmed by Commissioner of Prisons, Dr. Johnson Byabasaija, revealing that over 30% of inmates incarcerated over capital offences are on defilement charges.
However, Ibin Ssenkumbi, Spokesperson Kampala Metropolitan Police, though acknowledging the problem, thinks the figures are exaggerated.
“It’s true, defilement has been on the rise, but it cannot be 50% of cases police handles,” Ssenkumbi avers.
The MDGs were established in 2000 following a millennium summit of the United Nations (UN) with a 15 year span for their achievement.
The eight MDGs include eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, combat HIV, improve maternal health, reduce child mortality, promotion of gender equality, achieve universal primary education, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
Despite giant strides in realizing some MDGs like UPE and promotion of gender equality, Uganda’s performance report indicates that eradication of extreme poverty and improvement of maternal health is out of reach.
With the deadline for MDGs due in September next year, global consultations are taking place about the issues that should be the focus of a post-2015 era.
With Uganda’s Foreign Minister, Sam Kutesa, set to occupy the presidency of the UN for the next two years, MPs Paula Turyahikayo and Florence Mutyabule aver that the country is better placed to shape the final goals to be agreed upon by UN member states next year.