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Politicians top child-neglect list

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th September 2006 03:00 AM

Politicians, doctors, administrative officers and accountants are top on the list of fathers who neglect their children.

Politicians, doctors, administrative officers and accountants are top on the list of fathers who neglect their children.

By Josephine Maseruka
Politicians, doctors, administrative officers and accountants are top on the list of fathers who neglect their children.
Others are businessmen, soldiers, especially in northern Uganda, peasants and labourers, according to a report by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) of 2005 released recently.
Of the 1,208 cases reported to the UHRC in 2005, child neglect was top on the list with 286 cases (23.6%). In the 2004 report, child neglect was again highest with 602 cases (about 26%).
However, UHRC officials said the complaints on child neglect reported in 2005 reduced significantly.
Margaret Ssekaggya, the UHRC chairperson, said, “Primarily, unemployed mothers file 70% of the complaints.”
The majority of complainants who seek maintenance for their children and themselves are women between the ages of 15 to 19.
“These young women are, therefore, gullible to being lured by men who impregnate them and thereafter abandon them… . They have dropped out of school and are unemployed as a result of lack of qualifications and skills,” the report said.
The commission noted that most men ended any form of support to women after cohabitation came to an end, regardless of the number of children the relationship had borne.
Many women complainants were deserted by their husbands while in some cases issues of child custody, domestic violence and distribution of matrimonial property were raised.
The right to maintenance is provided for under Article 34(1) of the Constitution, which provides that children shall have a right to know and be cared for by their parents.
Section 6-7 of the Children’s Act, Cap 59, provides that it is the duty of a parent or guardian to maintain a child and every parent shall have parental responsibility for his or her child.
The penal Code Act Cap 106 sections 156 and 157, provide for the offence of desertion of children under the age of 14.
Section 157 further provides for offence of neglecting to provide for children.
The Divorce Act, section 9 provides for custody of children, maintenance and education of minor children of the marriage in case of divorce.
Maintenance entails the provision of food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education to the right holder.
UHRC recorded two cases where fathers complained. One lodged a complaint against a mother who was not providing food for his children despite the man’s assistance to the children
Another male reported a defilement case of his 16-year-old daughter by one of the demobilised soldiers. However, the soldier could not be traced.
UHRC said that the majority of the cases for maintenance of children concerned vulnerable children below 10 years.
Failure to support was manifested in neglect or refusal to pay school fees, which negatively impacted on the right to education. There are cases of children (those still in school and out of school) who lodged complaints with the UHRC seeking support from parents for their educational expenses.m The commission regretted that parents gave defence that children above 18 were already adults and, therefore, not eligible for compulsory financial assistance.
UHRC urges the Government to strengthen existing laws on parental responsibility and their enforcement to ensure that parents meet their obligations.
UHRC established that poverty, broken marriages, conflicts between couples, cultural stereotype against the girl-child, effects of HIV/AIDS, cohabitation, alcoholism and misappropriation of children’s property by relatives were reasons for failure to support children.
Ends

Politicians top child-neglect list

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