Last week, Justice JB Katutsi sentenced Livingstone Ssewanyana, a Wakiso businessman, to 37 years in prison for having sex with his under age daughter. Ssewanjana is to serve 18 years for defilement and 19 for incest.
Incest is having sexual intercourse with a relative. The law protects societal morals and prohibits inbreeding.
Incest is a crime irrespective of whether those involved consented or not.
In 2002, 20 incest cases were reported. This reduced to nine in 2003, but rose to 36 between January and November 2004. This represented a 300% increase in the reported cases.
Many incest cases are never reported to the police because the crime is a â€˜homestead crimeâ€™ where the victims are not able to report the culprits.
The crime involves abusing power relations in a home, as victims cannot point fingers at their abusers.
Consider father-to-daughter, or niece-to-uncle, where respect or fear cannot allow the victim to seek redress. A threat to withdraw support, or to send away the victim from home is enough to silence her. Even where the victim speaks out, family members often prefer to solve the matter privately so as to avoid embarrassment. When people see relatives having sex, they regard them as immoral rather than criminals and not report them. Some local cultures simply cleanse those involved in incest.
Section 149 of the Penal Code classifies sexual relationships with the following persons as incestuous:
A person who is convicted for incest is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
If the person commits the offence with someone who is under 18 years, they are liable to imprisonment for life. If a person commits incest with someone below 21 year of age, and for whom they are a guardian, court can strip the offenders of their guardianship and appoint another caretaker of the victim.
How to prevent incest:
First, try as much as possible to separate boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ bedrooms in your home.
Proximity of bedrooms is a big factor in sexual abuse. But even where boys are separated from girls, always keep watch over the children.
Parents should probe their children even when there are no complaints. Children should be told that having sex with a relative is a crime.
Even schools have a role to play. Teachers and matrons should talk to children to find out if there is any wrong practice among them.
Victims of incest can prevent the act by:
Firmly resisting the abuse. The offenders are usually cowards, who if resisted can back off.
A threat to report them to other relatives sends shivers down their spines. Shouting for help also chases away the abusers. If the abuse has already taken place, confide in a trusted relative, especially one who does not live in the home and who seems to have influence over the abuser.
A trusted aunt, uncle or grand parent can be of great help.
But if help is not forthcoming from other members of the family, seek assistance from the Police.
Today, the Police have a Childcare and Family Protection Unit, a professionally trained police unit to handle crimes committed in a family environment. Where a police officer mishandles your case, try a superior officer at the district.
The headquarters of the Childcare and Family Protection Unit is at the Police headquarters, Kibuli P.O Box 7055, Kampala. Tel is
Mishandling incest case can also be reported directly to the Inspector General of Police on mobile 071745023, 071-667734 or 041258114. You can also ring the Police Human Rights and Complaints Desk hotline 041-340611.
Complaints can be anonymous so long as they give enough information for the Police to follow up the case.
Reported cases of incest rose by 300% from 2003-2004