Uganda has a sex crime problem, but gays are just easy scapegoats

Author: Daniel K Kalinaki. PHOTO/FILE. 

What you need to know:

  • Targeting homosexuals and their so-called sponsors deflects from a real problem. To solve the sexual assault crisis facing young Ugandans we need to analyse, not moralise the problem.

It is that time of the decade when everyone with a modicum of power in Uganda turns their guns on the gay community. The President has weighed in. The Anglican Church, swiftly moving on from the sex scandal involving its last chief shepherd, has called for fire and brimstone to rain down on the gays.
Parliament, which is yet to find time to debate the findings of important inquiries into Uganda Airlines and the National Social Security Fund, says a new Bill will soon be tabled to deal with the matter. Even the Muslims, often on the receiving end of oppression, marched through the streets, prayer beads at the ready, uttering fatwas to the infidels.

This multi-layered onion rolls onto the floor of discussion once or twice every decade. It comes covered in anti-Western rhetoric, and coated with the dust of shadowy groups allegedly quietly recruiting young people into homosexuality, with cash as a lubricant. Careers have been built on fighting homosexuality; visas and economic relief obtained on account of victimhood. It is big business, alright, but with very little in the way of facts, and evidence.
But what do the data show? Does Uganda have a sex crime problem and, if so, what is it really? Your columnist looked at the crime report from the Uganda Police Force and found some interesting stats.
The data show that, indeed, we have a sex crime problem on our hands. In the last three years (2020, 2021 and 2022), 34 Ugandans below the age of 18 were sexually abused. Every day. Simply put, a Ugandan under the age of 18 is sexually abused every 42 minutes. We call it defilement, but it is sexual abuse, to be polite, and rape, to be absolutely clear.

Another 1,623 Ugandans were raped last year, or four every day. This is only the number of those who reported to the police, but it is certainly much higher than this.
Out of the 12,780 “defilement” cases reported to the police last year, 12,470 victims were female, while 310 were male. One way of interpreting this is to suggest that the lesbians are on rampage. More accurately, however, is that most of the sexual assault of minors in Uganda reported to the police is of the heterosexual variety and involves men preying on young girls.
Some 653 victims were aged eight years or younger, and about 4,000 were aged 9-14. The majority of victims, 8000 or so, were aged 15-17, statistics that reveal socio-economic dynamics, especially in poor rural areas, that are too complex to get into here.

It is possible that there are some foreign evil perverts out there recruiting young people into sexual acts. But most of those reported to the police are Ugandans, many of them known to their victims. Some 150 victims last year were defiled by their parents or guardians; more than 80 by teachers.
Most of these sex crimes go unresolved and unpunished. Only one in three defilement cases reported to the police went to court. And of these, only 205 led to convictions. Another 4,500 cases and suspects remain under investigation, and in custody.
It is the same with rape. Of the 1,623 cases reported to the police, only 557 went to court, and only three led to convictions. Some 623 of the 625 suspects sent to prison on rape charges remain in custody, part of the ever-rising case backlog in the criminal justice system.

Without getting into the moral or cultural arguments, the data show that an unacceptably big number of young people are being sexually abused, heterosexually, in Uganda every year. This isn’t mythical, or based on conspiracy theories. It is data from the police. The police report is not specific on the extent of sexual assault involving homosexuality. The closest is a reference to “unnatural offences”, of which there were 80 reported in 2021 and 83 last year. It is probable that, as with heterosexual sexual offences, homosexual sexual assaults are under-reported, but it is clear where the problem lies.

 We need to resource the police better to solve sex-related crimes, including upgrading their forensic abilities. And we need to take measures to protect all minors, including developing and maintaining a register of sex offenders to keep them from working with and around children.
Targeting homosexuals and their so-called sponsors deflects from a real problem. To solve the sexual assault crisis facing young Ugandans we need to analyse, not moralise the problem.

Mr Kalinaki is a journalist and  poor man’s freedom fighter. 
[email protected]; @Kalinaki