Uganda records 21,000 child abuse cases during COVID lockdown

“As government, we have noted with concern the rising cases of abuse and violence involving children,” ICT minister Judith Nabakooba said.

Uganda has registered more than 21,000 cases of child abuse during the five months the country has been under COVID-19 lockdown.

This was revealed by ICT minister Judith Nabakooba in a press statement released on Sunday morning. 

“As government, we have noted with concern the rising cases of abuse and violence involving children,” Nabakooba said.

“During the peak of the lock down between March, April, May and the Months of June and July, a total of twenty one thousands, two hundred sixty cases of child abuse were reported to police, (21,260),” she added.

Details in the minister’s full statement below  

Press Statement on the 9th August 2020

Keeping our Children Safe from Abuse 

Good morning members and thank you for coming for today’s Press Briefing.

Today’s briefing is mainly focusing on the situation of children throughout the country during this time when schools are closed.

As government, we have noted with concern the rising cases of abuse and violence involving children. 

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 other commodities.

We are seeing an increase in cases of  defilement and rape. In some of these cases, the culprits abusing children are parents and close family members.

Government has noted with the concern the increasing cases of teenage pregnancies in communities across the country. In some of these cases, both the girl and boy are under age.

Looking at the statistics on child abuse since the COVID-19 period in March, some of the areas with highest number of cases include Kamuli, Gulu, Naggalama, Kiryandongo and the Jinja Road policing areas in Kampala.

During the peak of the lock down between March, April, May and the Months of June and July, a total of twenty one thousands, two hundred sixty cases of child abuse were reported to police, (21,260). Out of these more than half of them involved situation of children being abused from home. 

Whereas we acknowledge that COVID-19 has deeply affected everyone. The abuse and violence being faced by children in the community is not acceptable.

The closure of schools should never be an excuse to violate the rights of children and expose them to any form of sexual abuse.

As government we call upon all parents, care givers and community members to rise up to their responsibilities and ensure that children are safe all the time.

They must be protected at all times and most especially during this time when schools are still closed.

Children are going through a difficult time being out of school and therefore they need a lot of care and love, support and guidance.

Parents should shit children down, talk with them and explain the current situation rather than resorting to violence.

I call upon all community members to report any case of violence, abuse or exploitation of children. This can be reported through the traditional community structures or local law enforcement agencies such as police or local council.

It is everyones responsibility to ensure children continue to learn while out of school by giving them access to the learning materials distributed by government. 

Parents and caregivers should reach out to their local leaders and ensure that they receive the learning materials.

Joining us today to speak more about the role of parents and how we can keep our children safe and engaged during this period is Mr Muganga from the National Curriculum Development Center.

But before he speaks, allow me to remind the nation about the following issues as well.

I would like to thank all candidates who participated in the nomination exercise for special interest groups and older persons that ended on Wednesday. 

Campaigns are now ongoing and will end tomorrow on 10th August.  Voting for Village Older persons committees will be on the 11th of August, Village People with Disabilities in the 13th and Village youth Committees in the 17th of August.

I urge all people participating in these elections  to observe the COVID-19 safety guidelines that were issued by the Electoral Commission.

Our COVID-19 death toll now standards at 6. I want to remind everyone to always seek early medical attention when develops signs of COVID-19.

I want to call upon all our people in Kampala and elsewhere to seek medical attention early when you develop signs of COVID-19.

Let us take seriously the guidance from Ministry of Health and His Excellence the President.

Ensure to have your mask on when out in public, washing of hands with soap and social distancing all the time. 

For God and my Country

Thank you

Judith Nabakooba (MP)

Minister ICT & National Guidance