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Acholi paramount chief calls for protection of girls in lockdown

Acholi Paramount Chief David Onen Acana II speaking at the launch of the third edition of Acholi Cultural Festival in Kitgum Municipality on Friday Courtesy photo

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Rwot David Onen Acana II, the Paramount Chief of Acholi Cultural Institution has called for collective responsibility to protect young girls from sexual abuse as the country battles the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rwot Acana told URN during an interview at his palace in Gulu City that the current level of sexual abuse meted out at young girls and violence against children in the Acholi sub region and other parts of the country call for collective responsibility.

He explained that it is unfortunate that very many young girls suffered defilement, got pregnant while others ended up in early marriages in the first lockdown.

“Some people take this period to do atrocities on other people, among their targets are even young children because we now know that school children are home, we men who are not respectful, who are mindless, we are going to destroy young children. You find teen marriages within the community, teen pregnancies are too many. By this, we are destroying our future. These children if they grow they will have brighter futures and help us but not by shattering their dreams like these days.”

He says that parents and guardians also abandoned their children or subjected them to hardship because of the need for survival. Acana’s statement comes at a time when cases of child desertion, defilement, rape, and gender-based violence and child neglect have escalated in the Acholi sub region.

For instance, Geoffrey Lakwonyero, the Gulu City Gender and Labor Officer says that in June alone, they registered 28 cases of gender-based violence, one case of rape, eleven cases of defilement, one for rape, eleven for defilements, eight for desertion and thirteen for child neglect.

During the first lockdown last year, Acholi sub-region registered more than 17,652 teen pregnancies and child marriages. Rwot Acana II explained that the culprits take advantage of the closure of schools and economic hardships arising from the lockdown to sexually exploit and abuse young girls.

He called on the different cultural institutions to use their structures to rally the masses against child abuse and violence against children in their respective jurisdictions. Brenda Aromorach, the Field Officer for Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) also tasked all leaders and stakeholders to jointly condemn all forms of abuse and violence against children.

She highlighted the need for child protection and creating safe avenues for children especially at this time when the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paramount Chief also called on the people to embrace the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19, get vaccinated and avoid alcohol and substance abuse.



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