12 June 2013

Uganda: Parliament to Amend Children's Act

In a bid to reduce the increasing number of child abuse cases in the country, legislators have re-affirmed their commitment to have the Children's Act amended.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, in a speech delivered on her behalf by Betty Amongin (Oyam County MP) said that the Children's Act in its current form is not empowered enough to fight child abuse in the country.

"There are a number of cases that are not highlighted in the Act and this makes it hard for the law enforcers to punish the perpetrators as they continue roaming in the communities," said Kadaga.

The piece of legislation will emphasize such cases as incest and defilement which are currently on the rise as relatives and guardians continue to take advantage of children in their care.

Process of reform is already on-going after which reforms will be enacted into law that will form a basis for the fight against child abuse.

Also, the house plans to amend the Witchcraft Act, which it finds outdated, to fit in the current settings.

This was revealed during the Stakeholder's Open Day in preparation for the Day of the African Child which was held at the CHOGM grounds in Kampala on Tuesday organized by the National Council for Children (NCC).

Children from areas practicing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) delivered emotional testimonies at the event.

Most of them revealed the torture and pain they go through as parents try to have them circumcised.

"I had to run away from home to a nearby school as my father insisted that I had to be circumcised and get married so he could get cows," said a 13-year-old girl from Amudat.

Tete Chelangat Everline, who is Woman MP Bukwo county, noted that a number of challenges stand in the way of fighting FGM, especially in her district.

"These areas are very inaccessible with no communication networks as radios, TVs and newspapers, so people do not even know that a law was passed against FGM," she revealed.

Nnabagereka of Buganda Sylvia Nagginda, in her speech read by Buganda Minister for Gender and Community Development, Christine Mugerwa Kasule, called on traditional leaders to use positive aspects in their cultures to save children from violence.

"In implementing policies against child abuse, the communities should be engaged from the onset so that they do not view these attempts as an attack on their traditions," said Naginda.

The public was also urged against giving money to children on the streets as this instead encourages them to remain there.

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