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Speaking to the media at the National Symposium on Fostering Child protection and response to Cross-Cutting issues in Kampala on Friday, Mr Tollea said on a monthly basis, the child helpline dubbed 116 Sauti receives more than 300 calls every month
The acting Commissioner for Youth and Children Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr Franco Tollea, has said child toll free helpline 116 is overwhelmed by a huge number of calls from children and adults reporting cases of violence.
Speaking to the media at the National Symposium on Fostering Child protection and response to Cross-Cutting issues in Kampala on Friday, Mr Tollea said on a monthly basis, the child helpline dubbed 116 Sauti receives more than 300 calls every month.
He noted that physical violence tops the cases reported, followed by sexual violence such as defilement.
“Government doesn’t take these concerns lightly. The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has laws, policies and guidelines that enhance the wellbeing of a child, including protecting children from all forms of abuse and exploitation. That is why we put in place this toll free helpline to get to know what is happening in different parts of the country and respond immediately,” he said.
In terms of regional distribution, Mr Tollea said majority of the calls come from central Uganda, followed by northern Uganda.
Sauti is a Kiswahili word which means voice.
Through Sauti child helpline, community members, victims of violence and duty bearers report cases of child abuse and rights violations so that children’s protection needs are responded to.
Mr Tollea was also concerned about the growing burden of child labour in the country.
This, he said, was worsened during Covid-19 pandemic where thousands of children were forced to fend for families when movements were restricted to contain the spread of the viral disease, rendering their parents and guardians jobless.
“Children are subjected to all forms of work that are hazardous to their life, detrimental to their growth and development. If a child has been abused, they may not cope with the tasks of life such as going to school and attaining the necessary knowledge and skills,” he said.
Mr Tollea, however, said policies, especially the National Child Policy of 2020, which was approved at the peak of the lockdown, must be scaled up in all local governments to enable them respond and prevent violence against children.
He revealed that so far, this policy has been disseminated in 118 districts in Uganda.
On the issue of parenting, the acting Commissioner said poor parenting was partly contributing to violence against children and tasked parents to take on their responsibilities.
Mr Damon Peter Wamara, the executive director of Uganda Child Rights Network, said they have observed an increase in cases of child trafficking, with juveniles constituting the largest percentage of victims trafficked within the country. “We also have child trafficking, which is rampant and on the rise in our country, with internal trafficking being particularly prominent. Over 80 percent of the individuals trafficked in the country are children. We have also witnessed cases of physical violence. And both boys and girls are subjected to physical abuse,” Mr Wamara said.