Uganda has registered more than 21,000 cases of child abuse during the five months the country has been under the COVID-19 lockdown.
This has been revealed by ICT minister, Judith Nabakooba in a press statement released on Sunday morning, 9 August 2020.
“Since COVID-19 lockdown in March and the subsequent closure of schools, there has been a growing pattern of abuse and domestic violence targeting children at home. There are a number of reports showing an increase in child marriage. These cases involve underage girls being sold off into marriage in exchange for money and commodities,” Minister Judith Nabakooba stated.
She also added that the cases of defilement and rape involving many of the culprits as close relatives to the victims and teenage pregnancies are on an express rise.
During the peak of the lockdown between March, April, May, and the month of June and July, a total of twenty one thousand, two hundred sixty cases of child abuse were reported to the police. Out of these more than half of them involved a situation of a child being abused from home.
The minister added that statistics on child abuse since the COVID-19 period show that areas with the highest number of cases include Kamuli, Gulu, Naggalama, Kiryandongo, and the Jinja road policing areas in Kampala.
As the government recommends, therefore, the best solution will have to be a collective and vigilant effort of the parents, caregivers and community members rising up to their responsibility and ensure that children are safe always. Children must be protected at all times and most especially during these times when schools are still closed.
Calling upon all community members to report any cases of violence, abuse, and exploitation of children, Minister Nabakooba advised that the traditional community structures or local enforcement agencies such as the police are open to receive and act on such cases.