Forum for African Women Educationalists - Uganda Chapter

"21 Years of Enhancing Girls' and Women's Education for Development" FAWE Uganda 1997-2018

ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN NTOROKO DISTRICT

Mr. Opila Charles, the Ntoroko District Police Commander responding to issues raised by the stakeholders on what the Police is doing in relation to combating all forms of violence against children in Kanara T/C Ntoroko district.

On February 14th, 2018 FAWE Uganda in partnership with Ntoroko district held a community dialogue in Kanara Town Council to create awareness on the plight of violence against Children in and around schools. The deliberations highlighted the emerging trends in violence against children including factors fuelling it - negative cultural norms, poverty, weak enforcement of existing laws and its overall impact on learners.

Mr. Opila Charles, the Ntoroko District Police Commander responding to issues raised by the stakeholders on what the Police is doing in relation to combating all forms of violence against children in Kanara T/C Ntoroko district.

During the dialogue, children from partner schools used music, dance and drama to bring out the different issues affecting them in and around schools. Sexual violence ranked high, especially early child marriages, teenage pregnancy, defilement and rape; child labour - engaging in fishing along the shores of Lake. Albert and working in markets; drug abuse, starvation both in school (no lunch) and home due to shortage of food; corporal punishment and abusive language used by teachers and parents both in school and home respectively. Stakeholders present were also sensitized on their core roles and responsibilities on prevention and ending violence against children, in addition to existing legal frameworks to help facilitate their work. The issues raised by the children steered debate among the stakeholders as they had to give answers on what they are doing to combat violence against children.

Mr. Opila Charles, the Ntoroko District Police Commander said, “As the Uganda Police Force, our role is to keep law and order; we are committed to doing our part and end all forms of abuse against children. However, police alone cannot achieve a lot. I call upon all stakeholders; parents, local leaders and community members to cooperate and join hands in ending this vice. For instance, on fighting child marriage, there is a challenge of connivance among parents to negotiate with perpetrators instead of being responsible and protect their children by reporting cases and bringing the abusers to book.” He further blamed the negative cultural believes as being one of the key factors fuelling violence against children, “Parents look at their children especially the girl child as a source of wealth – so they want to marry them early so they can benefit.”

The Town Clerk of Kanara Town Council expressed that, “Last year, Ntoroko district passed a bylaw on ending child marriages however, the issue keeps coming-up because of uncooperative parents and the public who look on when the children are being married off. As a result, we are going to arrest and charge parents who are found of procuring this act. They need to be responsible enough and ensure that their children are in school, provide lunch – scholastic materials for them and stop looking at the girl child as a solution to their problems.” He encouraged the children to report to their head teachers, teachers, local leaders and the police incase their parents want to marry them off. Local leaders too need to enforce the bylaw, document all the parents whose children are not in school so that they can be prosecuted.

The dialogue meeting was attended by over 150 people including; the Ntoroko district leaders – District Education Officer, Town Clerk, the Speaker, Representative of the Resident District Commissioners Office and Chief Administrative Officer, District Police Commander, youth councilors, Office of the district chairperson, district probation, office, members of the Uganda Police Force , religious and cultural leaders, local leaders and community members.

Kanara town council registers the highest number of violence cases against children and this is attributed to the nature of area i.e. an highland, a landing site, bordering Uganda and Congo with over 40 tribes different tribes from various parts of the country and beyond.

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