Police in the Albertine region have recorded 191 cases of defilement in three months.
Uganda Police Force’s Albertine region spokesperson Julius Hakiza said the cases were recorded between March and May, 2020.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Hakiza said, “In the whole of the Bunyoro region, depending on the number of cases that were reported at our different police posts, we recorded 191 defilement cases during the month of March, April and May.’’
Bunyoro sub-region is made up of Kibaale, Kagadi, Kiryandongo, Buliisa, Kakumiro, Masindi, Hoima and Kikuube.
However, only eighteen out of the 191 cases of defilement have been taken to court to punish the perpetuators.
ASP Hakiza explained that, “18 cases of the 191 have been taken to court for trial with some of the other cases under inquiry.’’
Police attribute the spike in defilement cases the countrywide Covid-19 lockdown that was declared by President Yoweri Museveni in March 2020. President Museveni called for the lockdown to help slow or stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) that was first reported in China in December 2019.
The lockdown included the closure of all educational institutions and most non-essential service providers.
Hakiza said, ‘’Most people are idle during the lockdown. Unfortunately some parents send their young female children to collect firewood in the forests alone which the defilers take advantage of.”
As cases of defilement rise in the region, several Non-governmental Organisations in Bunyoro sub-region have embarked on sensitising parents and minors on the dangers of defilement.
World Vision area program manager Charles Kabogoza said they have been forced to intervene. He said, “‘’The informal systems such as families have lost control of the children. Fathers are referred as absentee landlords, leaving the responsibility to mothers who are too busy to take charge.”
Before the closure of educational institutions, Kabogoza said parents were relying on schools helping them look after their children. However, with the closure of schools, the children have been, “Left in the hands of wolves.”
Kabogoza said that the number of defilement cases that get to court are few because police is constrained in getting evidence. He said that informal reporting systems like families that would provide this eye witness accounts are already barely functional and compromised.
This makes it all but impossible for police and the court system to conduct thorough follow up investigations.
Kabogoza is the World Vision area manager for Kyabigambile sub-county Hoima district.
Ugandan law defines defilement as the act of having sex with a girl under 18 and any person who commits such a felony is on conviction liable to life imprisonment.
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