Violence against children high in remand homes

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Juvenile remand and rehabilitation homes have become torture chambers for children under their custody.

This is according to a survey conducted by AfriChild Centre and the ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development.

The homes are gazetted to keep children aged 12 - 18 years, who find themselves in conflict with the law.

However, instead of being rehabilitated, the children encounter several forms of violence such as sexual, physical violence, and exploitative child labour,  the 2016 Uganda Violence against Children report states.

According to the researchers, violence against children is common at Kampiringisa in Mpigi district, Fort Portal Remand Home in Kabarole district and Naguru Reception Centre.

The report also adds that the perpetrators of violence include fellow children, caretakers, casual labourers and community members.

In some of the homes, the researchers found out that sexual violence such as sodomy by older boys, inappropriate touching and sexual abuse of girls by some male caretakers exists without knowledge of the authorities.

The report also noted that the homes also lack proper sanitation facilities, inadequate access to water, soap which exposes them to diarrhoea and cholera and leads to eventual death. The study also highlighted the lack of medical facilities.

Joyce Wanican, the Executive Director of AfriChild says that it's surprising that the homes meant to reform children are instead feared by the children.

Wanican explains that some of the children flee the home and go to the streets because of the violence.

Wanican says that some of the children in the homes have been on remand beyond the three months provided under the Children's Act while others do not understand even the offenses they have committed.

At the release of the report in Fort Portal on Monday, Fred Rukabo, the assistant commissioner in -charge children and youth affairs in the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development said that the children who are supposed to be rehabilitated instead continue to suffer violence and the perpetrators are never brought to book.

He explained that if violence against children persists, the children could come out of the homes with depressing futures and not reformed.

Rukabo added that the Ministry is currently formulating a Child Policy that will lay out guidelines for protection and development of disabled children and juveniles in rehabilitation homes.

Rukabo observes a need to ensure that the children are resettled back to their homes and caretakers sensitized since most of the caretakers are not skilled.

According to the 2016 police crime statistics, 43,682 cases of violence against children were reported countrywide.

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