Over 5000 Violence Cases Reported Through Child Helpline in 2020. – Minister Mateke
Written by Derrick Asaba on November 25, 2021
“In the establishment of the helpline, we have seen that when children know their rights, they will speak up when those rights are violated,” said Sarah Mateke Nyirabashitsi.
This, the State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs, Nyirabashitsi said during the launch of the Sauti 116 Awareness Campaign recently.
She said that since its inception in 2014, the helpline has truly been a voice for countless children across the country, connecting them to essential protection services.
“13% of the calls received by the helpline are from children, an increase from 0.2% in 2014. However, more needs to be done especially as Violence Against Children continues to be an issue,” said Nyirabashitsi.
In 2019, the Uganda Child Helpline also known as Sauti 116, managed 4,574 cases of violence. In 2020, it received and handled 5,558 cases, its highest number to date.
The Minister noted that during the lockdown periods, calls regarding sexual violence increased to 43% from 38% thereby making sexual violence and neglect the most reported cases. Plus, females are the most abused making up 60% of all cases.
“The biggest percentage of our calls are regarding children aged 14-17. This age group also has better access to phones and make up most of our child callers,” she added.
Nonetheless, Nyirabashitsi was saddened by this awful experience and concluded that many homes are not safe for children and more needs to be done to equip parents and caregivers in protecting their children.
She said that many violations go unreported as many people turn a blind eye at, or are not equipped to report it. “And far too many children lack the confidence and the means to speak out,” Nyirabashitsi added.
Violence has far-reaching effects on a child and their development. It also undermines the very fabric of society.
Against this reasoning, she urged all stakeholders, especially parents and caregivers, teachers and cultural leaders, and the government to protect every child, speak out on violence regardless where it occurs because it is preventable.
The helpline was started in partnership with UNICEF and other stakeholders to encourage children and adults to report cases of child abuse and all firms of child rights violations.
Currently, the helpline has 68 District Action Centres and receives an average of 950 calls a day. The helpline will offer support to victims of Gender-Based Violence starting this year.
The continued growth and investment in the helpline is a show of commitment by the Government to protect the children of Uganda from violence and abuse.
“This campaign is a promotion and empowerment of children to prevent and report cases of violence. It is a challenge to each one of us to speak up whenever violence occurs. Listen to children, believe them when they tell you they have been abused, and report. Do not remain silent because silence is complicity,” the Minister asserted.