Following the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020, it was the government’s wish to have all children stay safe at homes when it imposed a lockdown. However, some girls have faced it rough after being defiled and impregnated by the people meant to take care of them.
One of the victims, a 16-year-old Senior Two student at Kamda Community School in Mpatta Sub-county, Mukono District, says she was defiled by her biological father Ramathan Bashir Bogere, 45 years, who is also a primary school teacher at the same school.
She narrates that her dad started defiling her after their separation with the step mother last year and ended up impregnating her. She says she reported the matter to the dad’s immediate boss (head teacher) but did not get help. As a result, she ran to her school’s directors who saw Bogere arrested.
She goes ahead to say that her relatives were not happy with her actions and decided to chase her from home. She adds that after she was chased, she took the matter to Kabimbiri Police Station in Mukono district for help.
“It was at this point that the police handed me to the area councillor, Ms Justine Nabawanga, to take care of me,” she says.
Another victim, a 17-year-old Senior Two student of St Markonas College Kisoga in Mukono District, who was defiled by her father Shaban Nfuddu, a resident of Kabembe Kyampisi Sub-county, narrates that she was staying with her dad after their mother divorced when it happened to her and her other three siblings.
“I was impregnated and gave birth. I reported the matter to police which arrested him,” she says.
The area vice chairperson, Mr Godfery Kaweesa, expressed dismay over such actions and blamed the locals for keeping quite after getting such information instead of reporting the matters to authorities.
This habit is not only in Mukono, but it’s also rampart in Kayunga District. For example, an eight-year-old girl was defiled by a 24-year-old man, Bumali Lukungu, a resident of Ganza, Bukoloto –Kayunga Town Council.
She narrates that she went to fetch water with her friends at the borehole and on reaching there, they decided to first go to pick some mangoes.
“On our way back, Lukungu started chasing after us. As my colleagues dispersed, he followed me until I fell down. This gave him room to hold and pull me up to the cassava plantation,” she says.
She adds that she tried to make an alarm for her rescue but he squeezed her neck while threatening to kill her if she continued.
She further says that after overpowering her, he defiled her while squeezing her neck trying to keep her from making further alarm.
“However, I kept trying to raise my voice until one of my friends heard me screaming. My other friends joined and later reported to the elders in the village who rushed to my rescue. Lukungu took off but he was later arrested,” she recalls.
Ms Ruth Namika, the in-charge of women affairs at Ganza Village, says that when the girl was taken to her, she indeed confirmed that there had been defilement because the victim’s private parts were bleeding.
Namika adds: “These children were abandoned by their mother with other siblings when they are still young and went to Buwama. So in this situation of lockdowns, this defiler got a chance knowing that they are helpless.”
These students are just examples of thousands of others who have gone through similar or worse situations during these lockdowns.
Mr Collins Kafeero, the in-charge of family matters in Kayunga District, expressed dismay over such actions, saying they are rampart in this area more especially in this lockdown.
“Of the average 20 cases received in my office per day, four to five are connected to defilement. Most of them are done by their relatives, friends, and those who are near them,” he notes.
At Mukono Police Station, 48 percent of the defilement cases reported in 2020 were not taken to court for the victims to get justice.
Uganda Police launched a Crime Report for the year 2020 which also indicated figures of defilement cases reported at various central police stations across the country.
According to the report, Katwe Division led with the biggest number of 252, Kamuli 236, Mbale 230, Buyende 207, followed by Mukono with 193 cases. Across the country, 14, 230 cases were registered, increasing from 13, 682 in 2019.
Further investigation from the registry department of Mukono Chief Magistrates Court indicates that only 100 out of 193 cases appeared for hearing.
Also records at the District State Attorney’s office show that several cases appear for perusal and advice but once they are returned to police for file re-arrangement, they are not returned for sanctioning.
The Police report attributes the increasing cases to cultural norms practiced in various communities considering such girls ready for marriage and others defiled in the process of doing domestic chores like collecting water and firewood during this time of lockdown.