The Uganda Women's Network (UWONET) has condemned media reports of 14 girls who were rescued from a suspected human trafficker at a guest house in Muyenga, a Kampala suburb.
The girls were allegedly being trained to perform sexual acts before travelling to unknown European destinations.
"As long as we do not condemn these acts of violence against children, this will continue. We are very concerned about these stories. People are being condemned for investigating this story. How do we get comfortable with this kind of behaviour?" Ms Susan Achen, the programme coordinator of UWONET, asked yesterday.
The women activists also condemned parents in Amudat District who have reportedly resorted to selling their daughters into marriage to cope with the tough economic situation following the lockdown.
The activists urged local leaders, communities and police to embrace neighbourhood watch and expose any such acts because both the victims and perpetrators live in the same community.
Ms Diana Tibesigwa, one of the activists, said since there is less movement within the communities, it is upon the members of those communities to take the responsibility to watch over their neighbourhood and stamp out criminality.
"The LCs should move house to house to understand how people are living. They should know who needs food, who has a lot of food to share with people who do not have, which house is accommodating people illegally, among other responsibilities," she said.
Ms Elizabeth Kemigisha, a lawyer with FIDA, said the case of the 14 Muyenga girls raises a wide range of sexual protection concerns.
She said before the lockdown, out of the 344 cases that were being prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions, 223 were cases against child rights abuses.
"These alleged actions go against the dictates of our Constitution, particularly Article 24 which guarantees freedom of every Ugandan citizen from any form of torture, Article 34 provides for protection of children and it is premised on the principal of paramouncy of a child's best interests," Ms Kemigisha said.
Police told Daily Monitor that investigations were underway with intent to apprehend a potential inter-state human trafficking racket in the country.
The Kampala Metropolitan Deputy Police spokesperson, Mr Luke Owoyesigyire, said the "rescued children are currently staying with a professional children's home as they intensify efforts to trace for their parents."