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Are we mere spectators or part of the village?

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th April 2009 03:00 AM

OPIYO OLOYA
PERSPECTIVE OF A UGANDAN IN CANADA

The case of the 11-year old boy who was raped by a man in Entebbe cries out for justice. According to the media story which broke last week, the boy was sexu

OPIYO OLOYA
PERSPECTIVE OF A UGANDAN IN CANADA

The case of the 11-year old boy who was raped by a man in Entebbe cries out for justice. According to the media story which broke last week, the boy was sexually abused by a youth councillor in the area when he was left home alone.

Raised by a single mother because his father died a decade ago, the boy was taken to Mulago II Medical Centre Clinic in Namungoona for treatment. Doctors clearly determined that the boy had indeed suffered grievous harm to his private parts. The matter is wending its way through the courts, having been adjourned to May 4 because the magistrate, Steven Waiduba, was away at a workshop.

Meanwhile, in a twist that can never be countenanced in a system where the rights of the child are respected, the boy was expelled from his school at Kennedy Primary School! According to media reports, the school claimed that the boy would be further stigmatised by his peers, but also privately acknowledged that the reputation of the school would suffer. The boy was better off being somewhere else. Where else could the boy possibly go? This is home community for him after all, and to send him somewhere else will surely cause undue hardship for him and his family.

I am not a psychologist, but it is commonsense that running him out of his school community can only bring more harm than good. Research indicates that there are already enough traumas in relocating a child from his home environment even if it is done to stop further abuse.

Moving this boy from his community will likely compound the problem of recovery from the abuse. In time, he will begin to believe that it was his fault that he was sexually assaulted, and that because he was abused his family problems have multiplied.

Meanwhile, Entebbe Municipal Education Officer Deogratious Ssekyole is reported to have said that he was unaware of the assault. He promised to “take immediate action against the school administrators” if it was established that the school was in the “wrong”. Excuse me sir, what planet are you on? That is the most uneducated nonsensical response about child abuse that I have ever heard from a person who is responsible for the welfare of children. Of course, the school is dead wrong in expelling the child from its premises. We are talking here about an 11-year old child who was sexually assaulted by a man in authority. The boy could not have had any say in the matter except do as the man had demanded. We all know the fear that persons in authority could have for children that age.

For an Education Officer to act as if there was another explanation is not simply wrong in any language under any law, it is sick.

Furthermore, I am puzzled by the action of the Police. What is going on here when the accused man is given bail and yet the mother of the victim is not informed? Is she not entitled to have a say as to whether the alleged abuser is given bail or not, whether he should be allowed to walk freely or remain in custody until the case is brought before the magistrate? Is the safety of the boy not a going concern for Police given that the suspect may further threaten him not to talk or else? Or was the man granted bail because he has some connections somewhere? The Police need to come clean on this one.

Now, let us talk about the boy’s home community. Surely, this is one case where the boy would benefit knowing that there are people out there who stand behind him and his family. Those in the community blaming the boy ought to be ashamed of themselves. I would suggest that those members of the community casting blame on the boy ought to ask one question—what if this was my son?

The boy did not go asking to be assaulted. Just like many victims of sexual exploitation, he was minding his own business, actually sleeping according to his mother, when he was accosted by a sexual predator. That he was forced into doing what he would never do speaks more about the mind of the abuser, the man who assaulted him than about him.

My dear readers, there is a saying that I am sure you all know—it takes a village to raise a child. This child has been failed by some people in his village. The question is—what about the rest of us, are we just spectators and not a part of his village?

Are we simply going to stand there and watch an 11-year old child who was raped wither away in despair and neglect? I suggest a trust fund for this child—I will set it up myself if I have to—and will communicate to you how you can make a difference by donating into the trust to ensure that the boy has medical and legal resources to make a complete recovery.

I know the skeptics will say, but Opiyo there are thousands of abused children out there, how can this possibly make any difference? My response—One child at a time. That’s it.

Opiyo.oloya@sympatico.ca

Are we mere spectators or part of the village?

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