I’ve been away for far too long…Let me hope that I will sustain this momentum to not ignore you as of now.
March 26th 2012 dawned on a day promising warm sunshine , a novelty indeed for the Spring temperatures we’d come to expect here in London . Such warm temperatures definitely shoved aside all talk of global warming and its effect on the climate. One thing is for certain here in the UK, island weather is so fickle you have to rejoice when the sun favours you even if it is for a second of a lifetime. Unfortunately for me, I was not about to start celebrating the joys of the weather’s present – my tonsils had engaged in a battle with some virus. Way I felt I doubted my immune system was winning as my voice got compromised in the process of this battle.
In-between my jaunts on the net to catch some news or tidbits, I came across some rather disturbing if not upsetting, news about a man who’d managed to technically get away with sexually abusing over 50 young girls over a period of 6yrs whilst “touring” Uganda. Of recent, there’s way too many disturbing news from various corners of the world. No sooner are you coming to terms with one abhorrent news when another is fighting to erupt out to compete for top position.
Various social media channels like Facebook took to running commentary of the case involving this man, with blame games kicking off from all angles. Of Turkish nationality but information coming forth that he was actually from Macedonia. Truth be known his nationality is the least of my concerns – it is the nature of his crimes and the flagged-up laxity by the Ugandan judiciary in dealing with suspected or known paedophiles that was concerning.
My first take on reading about this was that it showed up the Ugandan immigration system to be very much, for lack of a better word…abysmal. Here is a person who’s been let in to the country on an open-ended tourist visa, completely free to wander around for as long as he pleases, abusing her citizens’ young people, profiting from the abuse by parading his acts around in cyber-space for all who care to log in to his porn sites. The anger one gets from such display of abuse of immigration regulations/policies is frustrating. The sad reality is that this is not the only person who has entered Uganda and gone about to carry out such abuses – he is the only one who’s been caught.
The blame game commentary that ensued on some radio channels in Uganda targeted parents for their lack of parenting skills. Now – this again to me flagged up a serious perception that needs addressing. Paedophiles do not target just children from troubled homes. Indeed some paedophiles carry this out on family members in an apparently “happy family”. In any case, Uganda has been traumatised by so many civil uprising that those persons blaming parents should check their steps as to how this has affected the family structure enjoyed by those fortunate.
I will share something that happened to someone I know and hopefully when she is ready and healed she is able able to talk publicly to give her own perception of what transpired. Reason for my sharing this is to shed a perspective to those who are blaming parents for the acts of a paedophile.
She was just turning 6yrs old, living with her mother. Her father had died from an HIV-related illness when she was just 4yrs. Miraculously she had not contracted the virus, but sadly one of her older brothers had contracted it. Her mother who was also HIV+ was doing her best to raise them with the aid of her brother (their uncle) who was a soldier in the NRM army. The little girl was attending at the local school in the village they resided in. Not long, a new teacher joined this school. He was very well-mannered, very religious affiliation himself to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in fact and holding bible studies etc. Being outwardly religious in mannerism and speech, the parents of children never suspected anything untoward going on with him and the young children at the school. He would in fact even volunteer to help around, paying for stuff that some parents couldn’t afford in time. He was quite popular as a caring, sensitive and helpful teacher.
The bubble burst for the mother of the 6yr old when she overheard a conversation taking place between her daughter and another little friend of hers whilst they played one day. Her daughter’s friend was heard saying that she would “tell” on her about where she got her pocket-money from for buying pancakes and what “she was doing with the teacher” , if she didn’t share some of the takings. The mother stepped in and demanded they both explain exactly what their conversation was about and got to find out that the teacher had groomed her almost 6yr old daughter in to an adult sexual relationship which had been on-going for almost 3mths. He’d even taught her how to care for her “wounds” after sexual penetration. The teacher was 27yrs old.
The teacher was initially locked up at a local police station for his own safety primarily and later released because the little girls’ grandfather pleaded leniency as the teacher was somewhat related to the family. No counselling or care was given to this little 6yr old – in fact some adults blamed her for what an adult male had done to her. Further revelations revealed this teacher had actually carried out similar acts on young children from previous villages before moving on to where this little 6yr old was at.
Until governance in Uganda changes its attitudes towards providing internal security for her citizens, women and child welfare are going to continue being sacrificed in the political power struggles which continue to take centre stage. It is primarily the role of those voted in to political office to ensure the domestic/internal safety of her citizens be it from outside of the country or inside by ensuring the policies and regulations that govern such are adhered to without favour.
Finally from a humanitarian aspect the responsibility falls on all of us to look out for those vulnerable in our midst. I hope that these young lives who’ve had such exposure visited on their persons at such an early age can receive the care and support to enable them to move on.