Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Child Sex Tourism in Uganda

Women activists gathered at the Federation for Women Lawyers (FIDA) offices in Kampala on March 29 to condemn Emin Baro, a 53-year old Macedonian man who entered the country as a tourist but has been detained over alleged serial paedophilia.

"These tourists come here in the name of touring yet they have sinister moves behind, they come and exploit our young children. It is time for government to find a solution to these sex tourists, otherwise we stand a chance of letting down the nation if we fail to protect our children," Patricia Atim from the Public Interest Law Clinic Makerere University lamented.

Baro had earlier on March 26 been sentenced by a magistrate to two years in jail or pay a fine of shs 6 million for "misuse of a computer" after he was found in possession of pornographic material. Nakawa Magistrate's Court heard that Baro lured young girls to commit sex acts on him as he filmed the proceedings. He would then sell the pornographic content to other social websites. He would pay the girls between shs 2000 and shs 5000. He is accussed of having molested about 50 children from different areas from Masaka, Kampala and Jinja. "He defiled the children and intended to use the material on his social website.”

The activists say Baro's case, as a tourist who entered the country six years ago, brings to light the increasing sex tourism most of which goes unnoticed. A 2011 study commissioned by Acting for Life/Air France , estimates that the number of children affected by commercial sexual exploitation in Uganda has increased from 12,000 to about 18,000 between 2004 and 2011, with more girls affected by the practice.

A 2011 ANPPCAN study carried out a study in Jinja District also revealed that many tourists engaged in child pornography, especially near beaches.

The booming tourism industry with an influx of foreign tourists has been blamed for the increased paedophile cases according to a 2007 UNICEF survey that was carried out in Kenya. The survey established that the vice had increased in countries where tourism is considered as a major foreign exchange earner. In Uganda tourism is considered a major foreign exchange earner and many initiatives have been put in place to encourage more foreigners in the country.

The Panos report on the status Child Sexual Abuse in East Africa published in July 2011 points out that regionally child sex tourism is on the increase especially in Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Kampala (Uganda) and Nairobi (Kenya). There is however scanty information and statistics on child sex tourism in Uganda because there has not been enough research that has been carried out on the subject. The Panos report says some child attackers are situational abusers who unscrupulously take advantage of a situation where African governments have no laws in place to handle cases of sex tourism. Baro's case has been referred to the High Court but the women activists demand that Uganda starts implementing its laws otherwise many young children are going to be abused.


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    Pacific Dreams