By Jacquiline Emodek
THE ministry of Gender, labour and social development with support from UNICEF, Makerere University, World Vision, Plan Uganda and ANPPCAN Ugandan Chapter have drafted the National Action Plan to end child sacrifice and child mutilation.
The plan complements the Trafficking in Persons Act (2009) and the Children Act 59 (2000) which promote the protection of rights of children in Uganda.
Speaking during the symposium towards eliminating child sacrifice and the mutilation of children in Uganda on Monday at Hotel Africana, Sulaiman Madada the state minister for the elderly and disabled said that the plan is a step towards curbing the vice that is compromising the protection of children.
Police records and media reports indicate that cases of child sacrifice and the mutilation of children linked to ritual murders have increased since 2006.
According to police records in 2007, three homicide cases of suspected human sacrifice were reported with 25 cases of suspected ritual killings reported the next year. Only eight of these cases were conclusively investigated.
Communities however, perceive that there is a higher prevalence and magnitude of child sacrifice and child mutilation than what has been documented by police.
“We now rely on police many Ugandans fear to report to the police so the cases recorded are less than what is actually going on but we hope that with community policing there will be an improvement because there is a gap,” Madada said.
According to HumaneAfrica, a UK registered charity dedicated to fighting child sacrifice and mutilation, the harmful practice of sacrificing children is demand driven and the demand is generated by community members seeking personal gain.
Simon Fellows the Director of HumaneAfrica explained that a social norms approach is key in reducing the number of child mutilations in Uganda.
“Once the community makes the link between their visit to a so-called witchdoctor and the mutilation of a child which has taken place in their community then social norms can change and the community can come together to collectively abandon the practice,” Fellows said.
In 2012 the ministry also started a child protection system by operationalizing the 116 toll-free line which is platform for reporting child abuse cases as well as protecting children against being trafficked under the disguise of child adoption.
Madada also launched the Journals of Child Sacrifice from the college of sciences and humanities at Makerere University and The Social Norms Approach to Reducing Child Mutilation and Child Sacrifice by HumaneAfrica.