Kampala | RedPepper Digital – Members of Parliament hailing from Karamoja sub-region have urged government to use an iron hand to crackdown child traffickers who they say are responsible for the many children on Kampala streets.
The legislators said trafficking of children to beg on the streets is taking a toll on the region to the extent that parents freely handover their children to traffickers.
“I have been to some sub-counties in Napak district, there are actually no children. Apparently, parents think there is good life in Kampala,” said Hon Faith Nakut (NRM, Napak).
Nakut was speaking before the Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development, which is handling a motion for government to respond to the plight of Karamojong children enslaved in street begging and forced labour. Nakut is the mover of the motion.
Nakut was accompanied by Tumwesigye Michael, the Executive Director ‘In Need Home’, an NGO working on settling street children from Karamoja. Tumwesigye told the committee that parents in Karamoja are being pushed into ‘renting’ their children into street begging due to poverty and hunger.
“We found out that most of these children are borrowed. Those people with children on the streets are not their actual mothers; they borrow children and in the evening pay some money to the parents,” said Tumwesigye.
He explained that the vice has worsened to the extent that even very young children aged less than a year have been trained to beg.
Tumwesigye implored government to be concerned that most of the children are mistreated by their supposed employers, and that female children are often sexually assaulted.
Bokora County MP, John Bosco Ngoya, said besides parents, there are non-governmental organisations that are simply making money under the guise of helping street children.
“Maybe there is business in street children and it seems to have reached the apex; there are rackets; there is actually somebody making a killing out of this. There are NGOs which have been created for this cause,” said Ngoya.
MPs proposed that government should begin with putting an end to the practice of Kampala Capital City Authority rounding up street children and dumping them in Kampiringisa remand home.
“This habit of KCCA rounding up street children and taking them to Kampiringisa is inhumane and traumatizes the already traumatized children,” said Ngoya. He added that there is a sizeable number of children that have gone missing from the remand home, and that no one seems to care.
The legislators want government to investigate NGOs and all groups dealing with street children, saying many are actually trafficking children into forced labour.
The Gender Committee has conducted oversight visits on gender-based violence countrywide, and is yet to present its report to Parliament.
The Committee Chairperson, Flavia Kabahenda, said violence against children was among the ‘nasty’ stories that her committee had to listen to. She said the motion will enrich her report, which she is yet to present to Parliament.