Armed with a scissor and bottles, a man in Luweero District set out on a hunting mission. It was no hunt for a wild animal but for a human being. His catch would turn out to be eight-year-old Sylvia Suubi. With his weapon, the suspect confesses to the police about how he ordered the minor to lie face down as he drilled her blood and packed it in bottles. He would later cut off Sylvia’s private parts in the thick of a forest.
The memory of the gruesome kidnap and death of 18-month-old baby Kham Kakama last year is still fresh; the murder of 12-year-old Joseph Kasirye in 2008 and the February killing of baby Shawn and his 17-year-old sitter in Kabowa, a Kampala suburb.
In Jinja Town, street children recently revealed that some people, under the guise of offering them domestic jobs, sodomise them – an act outlawed in the Penal Code Act (Article 145).
Official records also show that 20 girls are defiled daily in Uganda, some by their own parents or relatives. Money-hungry parents and caretakers have even gone further to connive with defilers to settle the cases outside court for an agreed amount of money.
At Namasale Landing Site in Amolatar District, children are reported to be ferrying luggage to and from ferries for Shs100. A similar scenario of child labour is reported at stone quarries and construction sites.
Any humane person will not want to replay the scenes of those incidents in their minds, or learn about the upsetting particulars. But the horridness of those acts that continue to happen in our communities cannot continue to fall on silent ears.
The boldest of acts though is by an adult who takes away the life of an innocent child, all in the delusion of wealth acquisition. A psychiatrist may probably cite mental instability, a psychologist - attitudinal or behavioral shakiness, a man of God - the devil and others will blame barefaced greed, desperation or poverty.
Whatever explanation one may give, there is need for a collective and sustained fight against child sacrifice and all forms of child abuse.
Firstly, knowing and implementing our laws could help better the welfare and save the lives of children. The 2010 Children’s Act (Article 11), for instance, mandates any member of the community who has evidence that a child’s rights are being infringed upon, to report to authorities. Article 34 (1) of the 1995 Constitution prescribes the right of children to be cared for by their parents or those entitled by law to bring them up.
Only you and I know how far those legal provisions are being upheld. Secondly, our society, however trendy it has become, should not let go of the invaluable culture of looking after children. As a child, I grew up knowing that adults were the solvers of problems that children could not. Adults were the white cane that children use to navigate the windy world.
Despite the inside-out situation today, we need to loudly ask ourselves some basic questions; How many times have we crossed the road alone, leaving that pupil to navigate the wild traffic? How many times have we bothered to stop by a crying child to find what the problem is or to calm them down? What have we done about that child who is daily battered next door or forced to fend for the entire family? Before we say “we are too busy and mind our own business”, let’s beware that the land mines we are placing in the lives of our children today, will make them mine nothing for the future.