Children in Gulu have defied a ban imposed by local authorities barring under-age children from attending funeral rites over reports of rampant child sexual abuse.
In March last year, local leaders in Gulu issued a ban that prevents children from attending such gatherings to protect them from falling victims of sexual abuse by men who take advantage of them, especially during big events.
The Acholi still hold last funeral rites highly as a practice of appeasing the spirit of the dead as well as a practice to show a sense of belonging. However, dozens of children continue to flock funeral rites especially at night as loud music blares from big speakers.
The LC3 chairperson for Patiko Sub-county, Mr Alex Kilara Kating, said since November last year, children have been attending funerals together with adults.
Mr Kating explained that with funerals rites starting on Friday and ending on Sunday, by Monday, some pupils in nearby schools will be nursing hangover.
He said, they resume school on either Tuesday or Wednesday and this is affecting their performance in the long run.
Mr Barlington Olweny P’ Ongwech, the chairperson community services committee who also doubles as the LC5 councillor for Bungatira Sub-county, said, with the so-called modernisation, discos are common at funerals, and it is where under-age girls and boys get abused.
He noted that on many occasions, some men have taken advantage of such gathering to engage in sex with young girls.
“There are worries that with the increasing cases of defilement, some of the young girls can easily be infected with Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), including HIV,” he said.
According to Mr P’ Ongwech, the ban is ineffective because it is not formal and does not attract any kind of punishment.
The police crime report for January indicates that at least 45 girls were defiled in the district.