Child sacrifice is startlingly common in Uganda with more abductions, mutilations and killings than the authorities acknowledge.
The police have cited the eastern region of Uganda as having the highest incidence of child sacrifice cases; with police chief Moses Binonga blaming the high infiltration of unregistered healers. With little protection or justice from the authorities, communities like Masese II were seemingly powerless.
Our pilot Child Protection Team (CPT) was created at the height of a local killing spate in July 2012. Through workshops they raised awareness on the issue of child sacrifice, tackling the beliefs, mindsets and behaviour that sustain the practice. They created productive livelihoods to ensure parents could afford to send their children to school and keep them safe throughout the day.
The team also created a strong safety net within the community with easy access to the police. With the provision of a bicycle and loudspeaker, people could quickly alert the neighbourhood and the police to the presence of suspected perpetrators.
Attackers started to realise they would easily get caught if they tried anything in that area. All of these measures resulted in the complete eradication of incidents in Masese II in the last 3 years.
Since this success at community level we have recognised the need to work on the wider development of a protective environment for children regarding this issue. We are currently replicating the model into the wider area, with a view to scaling up across the country, reaching many vulnerable communities where children are at risk.
The rising problem of child sacrifice in Uganda has been cited by the media, the Government of Uganda and the UN as a major child protection concern. Despite this, it is clear that existing legislation at national level is ill-equipped to deal with it. Although incidents of child sacrifice are being reported to police and investigated, there are very few prosecutions.
Consequently, Children on the Edge are supporting stand-alone legislation, addressing child sacrifice in the Ugandan parliament through the passing of the Prevention of Human Sacrifice and Harmful Practices Bill.
Together with Annie Ikpa (a media professional and the instigator of the concept of this Bill), we have begun work with the Ugandan Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) who are accomplished in Ugandan legal advocacy, to lobby for this vital change.
Working as a volunteer in Uganda, Annie witnessed first-hand some of the disturbing consequences of this practice. Since then she has created a short film on the subject, arranged the drafting of the Bill (through Ugandan parliamentary lawyers) and an initial round of networking
The passing of this Bill, specifically focused on tackling issues of child sacrifice and covering existing gaps in legislation, coupled with our work at grass roots level with the child protection teams will make a crucial step forward for the safety and protection of children in Uganda.
Please consider a donation to this campaign, or get involved by fundraising.
Find out more about our current child protection work in Ugandan slums