Uganda: Busia Leaders Team Up to Address Sex Trade, Street Children
New Vision (Kampala)
23 January 2008
Posted to the web 24 January 2008
THE influx of Kenyan refugees following the election violence has fuelled sex trade among under age girls in the district.
The Ugandan girls aged between 11-18 years are a big attraction to many. "They charge as low sh500 for sex per hour," said a resident.
The looming sex trade coupled with the influx of street children has prompted the Government and Busia district leaders to seek solutions to avert what they described as "a looming crisis"
Busia district probation officer, Julius Ogalo said there are at least 400 street children in the municipality alone."Most of these street children are Karimojongs who come to engage in petty business and smuggling along the border," he said.
The district vice-chairperson, Sande Lwapande said; "We passed a by-law demanding that parents who don’t take their children to school are apprehended and prosecuted."
There was also another by-law banning the operation of video halls during daytime. "The law urged video halls to desist from allowing children from entering the halls but we need support from the district," said Michael Mungeni the Busia Town Council mayor .
He said the Police was not effectively enforcing the by-law, an act he called a very big challenge.
Kyateka Mondo, the assistant commissioner youth and children affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development said: "These kids are so voilent, they can strike you at night. The girls work as maids in homes during day and resort to sex trade at night. "
"We need to address the problem from the root. Why is it that these children leave Karamoja?," he asked
Willie Otim, the commissioner for youth and children said "Street children are entitled to go to school, get adequate medical care and shelter. We need to handle these children before the situation gets out of hand. "
The deputy resident district commissioner, Emmily Akullu said her office would probe NGOs who thrive by pretending to look after the street kids.
The gender and labour minister Syda Bbumba, who met the district officials recently, urged the Police and local leaders to cooperate
"Why is it that the by-laws are not enforced? I know as politicians you fear to lose votes but remember once insecurity strikes, you will even lose more,"
The district Police chief, Amanya Isaac however said, all efforts to arrest criminals had been upset by sympathetic parents and community who defended the action of their children.
"How do people who rape, defile, rob, stab and even terrorise the Police, and be regarded as minors. We have reports that they even have guns and some are engaged in very serious crime," he said.
Amanya said although the community had jeopardised their efforts they were going to enforce the law."The law stipulates that any child above 12 years is liable for criminal prosecution."