The results of a World Vision HIV and AIDS survey have revealed rampant child sexual abuse in Uganda and have been presented to the country’s government.
World Vision shared information with the Uganda government’s departments of Probation and Social Welfare, Education, Gender and Community Development, Police for child protection, Health Services and with other NGOs such as One World Uganda.
Although findings revealed that World Vision’s ‘Channels of Hope’ and Community Care Coalitions models proved to be effective in transforming people’s attitudes towards those affected by HIV and AIDS, sexual abuse is the biggest problem facing children in Kiboga district, in the central province of Uganda, where the survey was conducted.
According to the survey, sexual coercion was found to be a prominent factor in children’s initiation of sexual intercourse. The findings revealed that although girls were significantly more likely to report their first sexual encounter as ‘coerced’, significant proportions of boys experienced sexual abuse as well.
World Vision Katwe Area Development Programme Manager, Martin Okello, said that the assessment sampled 511 households and more than 2,000 girls and boys aged between 10-17 were interviewed. At the baseline study, 60 percent of girls aged 10-17 were sexually abused and after World Vision’s awareness intervention, this was reduced to 53 percent. Some 13 percent of boys aged 10-17 were sexually abused, with the number remaining the same after awareness intervention.
At the national level, according to statistics from African Network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), child sexual abuse is the most common form of abuse in Uganda and is on the increase.
“Sexual abuse is unacceptably increasing in Uganda. In 2006 alone, Uganda Police recorded 5,693 cases of defilement. This is alarmingly high considering that most sexual abuse cases are never reported,” said Topher Mugumya, Programme Officer at ANNPPCAN.
“We have on our hands children with ruptured sexual organs, STIs including HIV and AIDS, children begetting children, children with low self-esteem and innumerable school dropouts,” Topher continued.
Statistics in Kiboga district indicate that the HIV infection rate in Katwe Sub County, where the survey was carried out, is at 17 percent compared to the national rate of 6.7 percent, according to the Uganda Ministry of Health.
World Vision’s HIV and AIDS Team Leader, Jenninah Kabiswa, said that child sexual abuse, as the biggest problem to children everywhere in Uganda, is not being properly addressed by the relevant Uganda line ministries and national and international agencies operating in the country.
World Vision is in the process of modifying its HIV prevention model to go beyond training children to become peer educators. It also aims to include positive parenting, and empower communities to carry out advocacy against issues such as child sexual abuse.
“We are trying to get as many players as we can on board to take up the issues with people in governments and schools so that we come up with approaches to curb the sexual abuse that is crippling the future of very many children,” said Jenninah.
3 August 2007