Civil Society Organization(CSO) fighting for children’s rights have said that domestic violence among married couples is one of the major factors pushing children on to streets of different urban places in Uganda.
The organisations said many families are no longer safe for children because of the unending violence which results into children running away ending up on streets.
The revelation came as different stakeholders commemorated the International Day for Street children at an event organised by the Uganda Child Rights NGO Network and other organisations in Jinja city under the theme “Keeping Street connected children safe.”
The head of the family protection unit at Jinja Central police station Assistant Superintendent of Police Cissy Logose concurs with the position of the NGOS.
He said, “Fights in homes make children more vulnerable and unattended to. They become victims because of associated neglect. Most cases the children will run away in such of help and sometimes they end up on streets.”
The program officer at National Children Authority in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation Fred Mabonga who officiated at the function says children picked from streets should be taken to rehabilitation centres and should not be held with hardcore criminals.
“The police officers and the in charges they must ensure that children are not put in the same cells with the adults. If it’s a minors case let it be handled very fast and children reunited with their parents. Children are not supposed to put in the same cell with the adults, it’s against the law and must not be encouraged,” Mabonga explained.
The probation and social welfare officer at Jinja city Phoebe Monica Kwagala said poor parenting especially in polygamous families has also facilitated the phenomenon of street children.
Kwagala said in polygamous communities or families, the father who is a key pillar, does not have enough time to take care and groom children.
Kwagala noted, “He is too busy running around in different homes. The mothers are also busy in markets to try and get more money to support their families because the husband does not have enough for all the homes. The children are left alone sometimes with no food and free to make funny decisions including going to streets.”
Rebecca Kyomugisha from Jinja Connection, a project working to rescue street connected children, said that the other major challenge is people who give food and money to the children on streets.
“People who give these children jobs, food and money are a big problem. The children keep flocking to the streets because they know someone will give them free food and donate money. If the families they come from are not also stable, the situation becomes even worse,” she said.
Sanyu Roberts from street children working groups said that government need to enact new laws that will see people giving money to children on streets arrested and charged.
“The by-law that was enacted by Kampala Capital city should be used as an example because it punishes those donating free things to children on the street. If we have such laws in place and they are fully implemented, those bringing children to streets and treating them as a business will stop doing that,” Roberts said.
It’s estimated that about 15,000 children are on different streets in the major urban centres including the capital city Kampala.