Over a week ago, a self-proclaimed Pastor, Robert Senfuma, was apprehended for using vulnerable children in a begging business. The nation woke up to news of a young man taking cover and avoiding apprehension in a rather dramatic episode that brought to light the plight of children in miserable conditions.
The incident reignited debate about the childbegging business which many of us in the civil society have very much worked to end through different efforts especially those directed towards resettlement of these children but most importantly raised concerns about the plight of these children in a more organised Kampala city under the new leadership and reforms.
Child street-begging is not a new phenomenon in Uganda. It has gradually been revitalised by using children as beggars in a more deliberate effort to earn an income by unscrupulous individuals and groups.
Like many other forms of child abuse, this effort is deliberate and highly organised that children are placed at different streets and put under the guidance and monitoring of older persons. This illegal business which contravenes, not only various local legislations protecting children, also stands in direct conflict with international legal instruments including the Convention on the Rights of children and the laws of natural justice.
While the Government’s efforts are applauded in as far as periodic resettlement of these children is concerned, there is still much to be done especially with strengthening capacity of the gender ministry which handles children’s welfare issues.
Parliament, through the Parliamentary Children’s’ Platform, should cause a revision of current legislations to tighten its grip on such individuals using children’s vulnerable conditions for their self benefit.
While we cannot dispute the fact that street begging is a global phenomenon, we should also appreciate that efforts can be made through strategic interventions especially those directed towards protecting children from exploitation.
Uganda being party to the UN Convention on the rights of children is required to make it possible for all children to have an active, happy and safe childhood. This demands a collective effort of both the Government and the civil society including the general public.
Collective effort can address childstreet begging