On Nov. 15, police in Uganda located and rescued a one-year-old infant who had been kidnapped with the intention of being sacrificed.
According to police, Samuel Mwesige was arrested over kidnapping the boy and keeping him at a relative’s house as he made arrangements to take him for sacrifice at a traditional healer’s shrine.
Did you know that Uganda has the sixteenth highest prevalence of child marriage in the world, and tenth highest absolute number of child brides totalling to an estimated 4 million?#EndChildMarriage pic.twitter.com/rrc6dZDgkR— Femme Forte Uganda (@FemmeForteUg) October 22, 2021
Last year, a family sacrificed their 3-year-old child in a witch doctor's shrine as an offering. Police arrested six people from the family in the case.
Such incidents of child abuse are common in Uganda although authorities do their best to fight them.
Police say 20 children are sacrificed in Uganda every year. Many others are taken by people to their homes for domestic help.
According to the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), a rights group, at least 3,000 children disappear from their homes every year in the country.
As the world celebrates Children's Day on Nov. 20, the plight of children in the East African nation ring alarm bells.
Apart from physical mistreatment, child marriages and underage pregnancies are rampant.
A school teacher in the capital Kampala, Charles Bakalikwila, said: "Thousands of girls between 14 and 17 years have given birth, while many are pregnant. The two years of COVID-19 lockdown in the country which led to the closure of schools has played a big role in young girls getting pregnant.’’
He said that due to poverty, which increased during the pandemic, some parents resorted to marrying off their underage daughters so that they are paid dowry.
I really wanted to bring attention to my friend Marium’s charity in Uganda. She helps girls escape child marriage by helping them get an education. She helps women and girls get out of domestic violence situations, learn skills to become financially independent and so much more pic.twitter.com/aykqGNDVF9— Tania Báthory (@Tania_Tha_Hun) November 1, 2021
One of the latest such case took place earlier this month when police raided a traditional marriage ceremony in Uganda's central district of Mityana and arrested a mother and her son in-law-to-be for marrying off an underage girl.
Schools across the country will open next year.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has instructed that schoolgirls who have become pregnant and given birth during the COVID-19 lockdown should not be sent away from schools once they open next year.
A female member of parliament, Flavia Kyegegwa, said at a workshop in Kampala: "We cannot say that we are securing anyone's future if we cannot secure the future of the children. We must ensure that our children are protected."
According to the Education Ministry, over 20,000 underage girls have become pregnant since the lockdown was put in place early last year.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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