The Ugandan government and NGOs expressed concern Wednesday about growing cases of child sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Child trafficking is mostly common in the impoverished northern Karamoja region with a staggering 400 - 900 children trafficked in the last three months, with 90% being girls.
Findings also show that most girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation, mostly in Kampala with an estimated 700 and 1,200 annually.
“Child sexual exploitation, child trafficking and unsafe migration are on the rise in the county. There is a need for the government’s intervention,” said James Yesiga, country manager of the Terre Des Homes Netherlands Uganda chapter, the leading organization fighting child abuse.
Yesiga also noted that out of 42.7 million Ugandans, 55% are children younger than 18, of which a few attend school beyond primary education.
Karamoja Affairs Minister Esther Anyakunyi, in response, said that the “government has started to enforce the early childhood education programs to help young ones to start education so that they do not become a burden to their parents. I also urge people to avoid proving support to street children. If people stop helping them while on streets they will go off the roads.”
Ministry of Gender and Child Affairs spokesman Frank Mugabi said: “We have reduced child trafficking through adoption where foreigners used to come and adopt children fraudulently.”
He said the government is also sensitizing people in Karamoja from where children are mostly trafficked and brought to Uganda to be sold or used by adults to beg and sex work.
“As far as child sex abuse is concerned, the president recently assented to a new child policy which have tough penalties for those caught in the act,” he said./aa