CHILD RIGHTS: A FOCUS ON SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE

Contents:

Child Rights Awareness
A Multi - Sectoral Intervention on Child Sexual Abuse
TOLL FREE LINE AT LAST!
Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
The Trauma of a Disabled Child
Domestic Violence Predisposing CSA - Experiences of the Slum Aid Project (SAP)
When to suspect Child Sexual Abuse
The Magnitude of Child Sexual Abuse
The Legal Framework for Protecting Sexually Abused Children
UCRNN Profile
 

Child Rights Awareness

Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) will continuously mobilise Civil Society every year in the second week of June to advocate for child rights. We thank those who actively participated in this year's week of action. This is the first issue of the child rights publication and it will be coming out bi-annually to create awareness about child rights. This particular issue focuses on the child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The Challenge of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is, that one person, department or system cannot fight it, we need an integrated system like the multisectoral approach. We also need to empower the young people to know their rights and avoid being exploited.

UCRNN aims at facilitating the observance of children's rights through advocacy, networking and capacity building with member organisations and child focused actors. CSA is the most gross violation of the rights of children that calls for concrete and concise action to be taken to protect children from all forms of abuse. There is a lot that should be done about CSA because it continues to pose a danger to children. Children are the future and the most dependable resource for the future of this nation. It is only with increased protection and advocacy using all possible channels that children can be helped to live an honorable life in order for them to realize their full potential.

On behalf of the editorial board, UCRNN would like to thank member organizations for providing articles and encourages others to contribute articles in the subsequent issue.

For more information contact:

UGANDA CHILD RIGHTS NGO NETWORK
Plot 18 Tagore Crescent
P.O. Box 10293 Kampala
Tel: 041-543548
E-Mail: ucrnn@utlonline.co.ug

A MULTI - SECTORAL INTERVENTION ON CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

By UCRNN Staff Writers

Over the past few years Uganda has seen an increase in cases of child sexual abuse reported in the media. Information from police records, health units, NGO files and media reports indicate that:

Although children’s rights guaranteeing their protection from sexual abuse are specifically set out in the law specifically the 1995 constitution, The Childrens Statute 1996 and the penal code act caplO6 as well as the international conventions like The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, The African Charter on the welfare of the child, their rights continue to be abused and violated. The solitary act of sexual abuse is not the only problem faced by children. The manner in which reported cases are handled leaves a lot to be desired.

The extent and magnitude of CSA can not be established but available statistics from other parts of the world and from our experiences in working with children, CSA is indeed a common childhood problem that needs to be dealt with.

Child sexual abuse is not only illegal but is also a human rights issue. Children who have been sexually abused are more vulnerable to further and repeated abuse. There is therefore need to act in order to prevent and reduce the risk of this happening. Prompt and systematic intervention by each one of us will:

The complex nature of CSA thus requires a co- ordinated response of all the key players in fighting this evil. The responsibility of supporting children who have been sexually abused lies not only with professionals that work in that field, but is a responsibility that should be embraced by all in the community. ldentification and understanding of the roles of each sector or member of the community is very crucial to avoid duplication:

The Role of the Family: The family is expected to be cautious about any signs and symptoms of the sexual abuse, and take quick action towards dealing with it. Parents have a responsibility of communicating to younger children about sexual abuse and to take seriously what their children tell them about it. Its the family’s role to ensure that the cases are reported, properly handled and concluded.


Don't blame the child

The Role of the Teacher: Teachers play an important role in the life of a child. They are able to detect when something is wrong with the child and are thus an important resource in case of sexual abuse. Teachers can get information on abuse privately and give comfort to the child. Together with the school administration, follow up of cases can be carried out.


A Teacher sensitizing girls on Child Sexual Abuse

The Role of NGO’s: NGO’s play a significant role in providing support for children who have been sexually abused. Their role is crucial as a link between professionals and the community. This includes awareness raising on CSA, providing counseling support, health support services, temporary shelter for those fleeing from abusive homes, referral and follow up of cases. Some of UCRNN’s members involved in CSA are Hope after Rape (psycho-social support, advocacy and awareness creation); African Network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) and FIDA runs legal clinics and rural outreach programmes and offers free legal advice to those in need.

The Role of Probation and Welfare Officers: They are empowered by the children’s statute to remove a child from the parents and present the case before the family and children’s court if they suspect abuse.

The Role of the Police: The police have to investigate the crime and undertake all steps in handling the case. Proper handling of the case is a step in the healing process because the child will feel that he/she is receiving justice.

Other sectors who in one way or another get into contact with cases of CSA are:
Health Workers, Doctors, Nurses, Psychiatrist, etc.

A multi-sectoral strategy in response to child sexual abuse being developed will involve all sectors mentioned above. This, it is hoped, will provide a frame work within which the sectors will work, and provide a mechanism for information sharing to help the victim. The process of investigation and referral of cases within sectors will also improve.

This process has been taken further and is expected to culminate into the formulation of the National Action Plan (NAP) for Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (CSAE. In pursuit of this, a National Technical Resource Committee has been put in place and is headed by the line ministry, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. It is hoped that with the formulation of the NAP for CSAE and the guidelines, there will be better management of CSA cases in this country.


TOLL FREE LINE AT LAST!

Response to CSA by the Private Sector

075 - 201

Uganda Child Rights NGO Network is proud to announce the commissioning of a toll free line number 075-201 thanks to CELTEL. This offer by CELTEL was made during the intensive awareness campaign week on child sexual abuse in the month of June to mark the Day of the African Child.

The help line, which is a major milestone in the fight against sexual abuse and presents an alternative means of reaching the children experiencing sexual abuse. It will also enhance the network’s role as an advocate for the rights and protection of children.

The majority of the abused children in Uganda cannot access counseling services because of the inability to report the abusers.Many are caught up in situations where they cannot readily share their plight with those around them for fear of breaking family relations or being rejected. The toll free line will enable us reachout to children and extend psychosocial support services to them. Members of the community can call in to report cases of children threatened with sexual abuse within their communities . Any person ready to offer help to such children can also reach us on the same line.

How it works

Hope After Rape, one of UCRNN’s member organizations specialised in handling cases of sexual abuse will host and manage the Toll free line. The helpline will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
A full time counselor will attend all your calls and will above all:

The Line, which was launched early last month at Celtel offices, will initially be free to all CELTEL users. According to the Marketing manager CELTEL, Ms. Jackie Namara plans are underway to link up with other telecommunication companies so that the number can be accessed through other networks.

UCRNN welcomes and applauds CELTEL’s support to the children of Uganda. Every child is a potential victim, it is the responsibility of all of us to help children facing abuse. Reach out and call us on 075-201 for the sake of that child. ‘MY CHILD - YOUR CHILD’

For more information please contact

HOPE AFTER RAPE
P.O. Box 7621 Kampala
Tel: 041-251201, 233669
Toll Free Line: 075-201
E-mail: har@uol.co.ug

Mr. Basil Kandyomunda, Chairperson UCRNN and Ms. Jackie Namara, Marketing Operations Manager CELTEL (U) LTD at the Launch of the Toll Free Line


UNDERSTANDING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

By Helen Namulwana Hope After Rape

Child sexual abuse is involvement by an adult of a child under 18 years in sexual activity. These acts may either occur by comission or ommission on the part of the adult. These acts involving both boys and girls include:

Who abuses children?

Sadly, children are usually abused by PEOPLE KNOWN TO THEM! This includes the parents, other relatives [uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters], neighbours, house-maids, shamba-boys, taxi-drivers, shop-keepers, schoolmates, teachers, boda-boda cyclists etc. It is in very few instances where offenders are strangers to their victims. These offenders often GROOM the victim before the abuse. Children thus build trust in the abuser and are usually not willing to speak out after the abuse has occured.


Anyone can abuse a child

Effects of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)

CSA carries with it both Physical and Psychological effects.

Physical effects are those that can be seen. These include:

Psychological effects are the harder ones to detect yet they have devastating impact [negative] on the life of the victim/survivor. These impact directly on their brain and therefore dictate their behaviour. These effects can be realized in both the short and long terms and they include:

Factors that predispose children to Sexual Abuse / Causes

These are the circumstances during which children are likely to get sexually abused:

What to do in case of Child Sexual Abuse: Dealing with the problem

Prevention

A lot of effort must be invested in protecting children from being sexually abused. This calls for actions on the part of both adults (parents and guardians) and the children themselves. For these interventions include:

Support

Every child needs some form of support and help to cope with sexual abuse. Some of the critical support intervention for sexually abused children include the following:

Almost always sexually abused children need medical help to either treat the immediate physical problems associated with sexual abuse or address the other consequences such as sexually transmitted diseases.

Psycho-social interventions: Sexual abuse exposes children to enormous mental disturbance and can have very severe and long-term psychological and social consequenes.Sexually abused children need psyco-social support in form of counselling and other emotional support to come to terms with what has happened to them.

Safety and resettlement: Quite often children who have been sexually abused require placement in an environment different from the one in which they were abused at least temporarily so as to enable the initial process of recovery to start. Considering that parents also feature among the category of child sexual abusers it is sometimes necessary to remove children from abusive families into foster families or other forms of alternative care.

Justice: It helps the recovery process for the abused child to feel that justice has been delivered against the abuser. It is also a way of protecting other potential victims from the potential actions of the abuser. The delivery of justice for sexually abused children will quite often require access to legal support/services in the context of a conducive legal framework.

Tips in handling child sexual abuse

  1. The child should inform someone whom he/she trusts.
  2. The child should NOT be bathed. The clothes he/she was wearing during the abuse should NOT be washed because they contain a lot of evidence that is important for justice to prevail.
  3. The adult who has been reported to should take the child to hospital in case of profuse bleeding.
  4. The matter should be reported to POLICE - FAMILY AND CHILD PROTECTION UNIT immediately from where the FORM III is given free of charge.
  5. Take the child to the POLICE SURGEON to have the confirmatory examination done.
  6. Persue the case right through to court – It takes time but do NOT give up. Do not allow to be silent about this matter. Settling this matter out of court benefits only you NOT your child.
  7. Take the child for COUNSELLING SUPPORT to avoid the psychological consequences of the abuse before it is too late.

THE TRAUMA OF A DISABLED CHILD

By Field Co-ordinator for USDC Hoima

Many disabled children are victims of child sexual abuse. Due to their very vulnerable situations, they cannot fight off attackers, do not know what is going on due to their mental status and cannot report. They are simply very vulnerable to abuse. Right from the time of birth when parents realise they have a disabled child, his/her chances of receiving enough parental care and love are put on balance.

For Joyce (not real name) of Kyabasengya village in the Waki river valley area, of Kitoba subcounty, the story is no different. She had a normal childhood like most children. In 1985 When she came of school going age, she went to the nearest school.


A shout for Help

This trend reversed around 1999 when she started having epileptic fits. She had gone up to primary five when she had to drop out of school due to the stigma attached to epilepsy in the community. Getting fits at school could not be tolerated because most people believed that contact with the body fluids of a person suffering from epilepsy would infect them with epilepsy. School was definately out of the question for the disabled child in the effort to minimise ‘the spread of disease. This was done for the good of the others and not to be embarrassed in public as well.

Her life turned around again on the afternoon of 23rd February 2002. The story begins when one of her elder brothers abruptly fell sick. He had apparently found ‘rare substances’ on his pathway to his daily work place and had unknowingly jumped them. He came back sick that day and had not been up for two weeks. An old friend of his, Ozo Charles, came to visit him. He felt very sorry for him in the state that he was and offered to get him some good food to eat that day. Ozo incidentally, was well known for his bad behaviour the village over. A habitual criminal and smoker of marijuana, he was commonly known as 'ninja' rapist and murderer.

On this fateful day Joyce’s mother did not pay much attention to the visitor. After Ozo had convinced the sick man about the food, the task was left as to who was to bring the food over. Andy, one of Joyce's brother could not carry a banana on his head and so Joyce was to fetch the food, but in the company of her brother Andy lest she got fits on the way.

Her mother did not know all this was going on, so when she noticed Joyce leaving home together with Andy and the visitor, she was not alarmed. ‘She was with her brother,’ she thought. On the way to Ozo's house, Andy branched off for a brief look at the tabacco Nursery bed he had recently planted. As he was still engaged in that Ozo managed to quickly convince Joyce to go with him and collect the food. ‘It was not far off and Andy would find them anyway’ he coaxed. They went by a shop where he bought her some biscuits and they proceeded to his house. In the house Ozo forced her into sex during which a struggle ensued and Joyce was badly beaten up and scratched. When she finally managed to escape, she had a lot of bruises and swellings and was such a pathetic sight when she arrived back home. Her mother saw her crying and Joyce told the whole story. Immediately the mother went to the local defence who finding the case too complicated for him, pushed them on to the police station at Kitoba. The authorities tried their best to assist them and to arrest the culprit that evening, but he had gone into hiding already. The group did not give up and after three weeks Ozo was arrested and put into prison where he is up to now. Unfortunately Joyce is four month pregnant after the rape and still suffers from epileptic attacks.


When to suspect Child Sexual Abuse

By UCRNN Staff Writer

The consequences of CSA are usually diverse. The severity however depends on the nature of abuse, the age of the child, the type of abuse including his/her relationship to the abuser, the frequency etc. People coming in contact with children need to be aware that children may exhibit signs of abuse before they speak about it. Below are some of the signs to look out for. However these indicators are merely a guide and not be acted upon in isolation, rather clusters of indicators should raise concerns, which should be shared with other professionals in consultation before any actions are taken.


SAP sensitizing children on CSA in Nakulabye

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREDISPOSING CSA - EXPERIENCES OF THE SLUM AID PROJECT (SAP)

By Allen Kuteesa

On the Commemoration of the Day of the African Child, under the theme "Prevent Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)", SAP reaffirmed its commitment to fight Child sexual abuse and exploitation as it makes children more vulnerable and may also expose children to HIV/AIDS. One of SAP’s major activities is compilation of an index on domestic violence in Kampala district to provide data on the nature, magnitude and effects of domestic violence.

Child sexual abuse is one of the forms of domestic violence. From the 2000 and 2001 annual indexing reports, 613 cases were reported of which 45% involved child abuse and this took on various forms which include battery/excessive beating of children, chasing children away from home, indecent assault, defilement, mistreatment by step mothers and locking children out of the home. A violent father always neglects the home hence leaves the children to cater for them selves. They hence, have resorted to prostitution as a means of economic survival or run to the streets were they face even greater risks of sexual exploitation.

Challenges in addressing CSA

Obstacles to reporting CSA include; the perpetrators are known to the victims/survivors and hence such cases are solved amicably by the family, survivors are threatened and intimidated by assailants, cultural values and attitudes that regard CSA as ‘domestic affair and a form of disciplining the child’, ignorance about child’s rights and laws protecting the children, and poverty that makes it difficult for cases to be followed up to their logical conclusion and lack of immediate remedy to the victim/survivors.

In order to strengthen her campain against CSA, SAP has future plans to put up a shelter to rehabilitate and cater for survivors of domestic violence. This shelter will supplement efforts by other players in rehabilitating and providing alternatives to children who have suffered abuse and neglect. Planned activities to be carried out at the shelter would include psychological support, provision of immediate relief e.g. food, recreational activities and skills training.

SAP has made efforts to fight child sexual abuse/exploitation as an effect of domestic violence by:

Research on issues regarding child sexual abuse for example case indexing which is used to lobby policy makers to effect positive change and to draw attention of the public about the existence of the problem.

Sensitization to create awareness in the community about children’s issues for example resisting child sexual abuse in relation to HIV/AIDS,children’s rights, their problems and potential remedies. Sensitization is done through community workshops, music and drama, video shows, community group discussions, production of IEC materials, publicity programs on radio and TV. In these activities children, parents, teachers, police and local council leaders are targeted. Home visits/support visits to monitor the general welfare of children in the slum communities.

Counseling/psychosocial support.

Emergency relief, which entails transport to elevant resource centers, the police surgeon’s fee for subsidized medical treatment and examination given the poor economic status of women in slums.

Net working with other child focused NGOs, to refer cases that do not fall within SAP man date /capacity, and to lobby for law reform on issues regarding children.

Training community volunteers e.g. Paralegals, Youth Peer Educators and Human Rights Advocates to engage in the fight against defilement, and child prostitution and for sustainability of community activities.


SAP sensitizing children on CSA in Nakulabye

THE MAGNITUDE OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

By ANPPCAN Uganda Chapter

The problem of child sexual abuse has increasingly become a major global concern. In Uganda, the magnitude of the problem is not adequately documented but anecdotal evidence indicates that it is a wide spread problem. Hardly a day passes by without a case of sexual abuse being reported in the local media. An analysis of local print media reports for the year 2001 indicates that defilement is the highest form of abuse leading with 45%. Child sexual abuse has various consequences on the child that may include social, physical and emotional.The nature, forms, and manifestation of child sexual abuse are such that addressing the problem calls for intervention at different levels by different actors targeting different people. Intervention in child sexual abuse can take the form of prevention, support and utilization of the legal framework for protecting children. The African Network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) Uganda Chapter has tried to intervene in the problem of child sexual abuse, through promotion of prevention through awareness and referrals to service delivery organizations to ensure that abused children access the necessary support services.


Listen to the child

Sexually abused children need medical services to treat the immediate physical problems associated with abuse and the secondary consequences such as sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually abused children must be attended to by qualified medical practitioners who are professionally sensitive to the problems and needs of sexually abused children. In Uganda, there is a general lack of appropriate medical services that respond to the needs of sexually abused children. Sexually abused children with secondary complications are treated in the obstetric and gynaecology wards regardless of their special needs. This poses serious challenges.

In addition to medical services, children that are victims of sexual abuse need psychosocial support to help them deal with the abuse. Sexual abuse exposes children to enormous mental disturbance and has severe and long-term psychological and social consequences. Sexually abused children need psychosocial support in the form of counselling and other emotional support to come to terms with what has happened. In addition to counselling, children who are sexually abused need a supportive social network to restore their lives to normal.

More often than not, children who are victims of sexual abuse need to be placed in an environment different from the one in which they were abused so as to facilitate their recovery. It is therefore necessary to remove children form abusive families and place them in foster families or other forms of alternative care. For a long time, this has posed challenges to child protection sector until last year, when hope after rape, opened hope house, which now acts as a temporary shelter for abused children. However, this center is located in Kampala and cannot effectively serve the whole country.

Child abuse is a hideous act against children that must not go unpunished. Perpetrators of child sexual abuse must be prosecuted in the courts of law. It also helps the recovery of the abused child to feel that justice has been delivered. Child abusers must be prosecuted to protect other children form abuse. The delivery of justice for sexually abused children will require access to legal support services in the context of a conducive environment. Whereas laws on their own do not constitute solutions to social problems they set the tempo for social change and provide a framework within which problems can be addressed. The operational law in matters of child sexual abuse is the penal code, which defines defilement as the act of having sexual intercourse with a girl below 18 years. The legislative framework for protection of abused children has been a subject of controversy in the recent past. The current law is inappropriate and unbalanced in favour of the girl children. The proposed sexual offences bill attempts to address the gaps in the current law.


THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PROTECTING SEXUALLY ABUSED CHILDREN

Much as laws on their own do not constitute a solution to social problems, laws set the pace for social change and povide a legal framework within which problems can be addressed. In the case of Uganda the operational law on matters of sexual abuse is the penal code which defines defilement as the act of having sexual intercourse with a girl below 18 years. The crime of defilement is a capital offence and attracts a maximum sentence of death on conviction.

The legal framework in relation to child sexual abuse has been a matter of enormous contraversy in the recent past. Clearly the current laws on child sexual abuse are inappropriate. The proposed sexual offences bill attempts to address many of the gaps in the exisiting laws. The gaps in the existing laws as well as the innovative proposals of the sexual offences bill need to be dealt with separately reviewed.

 

UCRNN PROFILE

Uganda Child rights NGO Network is a coalition of organizations/ agencies working in the field child rights in the Uganda. Established in 1997 UCRNN is committed to facilitating the observance of child rights in Uganda as stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Ugandan children statute 1996 and the OAU Charter on the rights and responsibilities of children. As rights based network UCRNN strives to enhance a collective voice on child rights issues nation wide and carryout collective advocacy on issues affecting child rights countrywide. UCRNN has a membership of 58 organization working with children whose work revolve around the following themes:

  • Children in armed conflict
  • Children living on the streets
  • Girl child empowerment
  • Psychosocial support
  • Children in conflict with the law
  • Children in and out of schools
  • Child rights education
  • Orphan support programmes
  • Micro credit programmes
  • Child domestic workers
  • Children living in slum areas
  • Child abuse and neglect child sexual abuse
  • Child rights advocacy

These thematic areas are all geared towards realization of the rights of children in whatever circumstances.

The role of the network in prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

UCRNN is committed to fighting child sexual abuse, which is now considered on of the gravest violation of the rights of children. In line with its objective to enhance a collective voice on child rights issues in Uganda, UCRNN has mobilized its membership to carryout nationwide advocacy on child sexual abuse and the protection of children against sexual abuse and exploitation. Some of these initiatives include: advocating for strengthening of existing laws and policies that protect children against child sexual abuse. Lobbying for the enactment of the Sexual Offences and domestic relations bill and other related laws. Advocate for the establishments of victim friendly systems within the Police Judiciary and medical institutions to handle the issue of CSA. Raising awareness of child sexual abuse amongst the general populace and production of advocacy and awareness materials on CSA. To do this effectively UCRNN networks and links up with other non-member organizations that work in similar areas. These include Action Aid Uganda, Africa Youth alliance.

UCRNN, a Child Rights focused NGO Network that is the umbrella organization of all NGOs working towards the improved welfare of children in Uganda. This collective voice enables members to advocate for an improved position of children in Uganda as far as Human Rights of Children issues are concerned.

For more information contact:

UGANDA CHILD RIGHTS NGO NETWORK
Plot 18 Tagore Crescent
P.O. Box 10293 Kampala
Tel: 041-543548
E-Mail: ucrnn@utlonline.co.ug