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As the country prepares to join the world to celebrate the day of the African child on 16th June, 2016, Children have asked religious leaders to lobby government to put in place systems that fast track cases of sexual violence through the justice and child protection system.

During the national child rights convention and learning event held on 13th and 14th June 2016 as a precursor to the day of the African child, children brought together by the Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN); also requested that everyone who plays a part in managing cases of violence against children be trained and resourced to do their job well, in order to quicken the adjudication progress.

“We ask religious leaders to support us to lobby the Justice, Law and Order sector and Ministry of Finance to put this solution to practice,” the children said.

UCRNN invited religious leaders under the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) to the convention under the theme “collectively ending violence against children” to discuss the role of religious leaders in preventing violence against children.

While speaking to religious leaders, children from SOS Children’s village, said many times they find themselves victims of repeated sexual violence in the hands of both male and female relatives who are supposed to be their caretakers.

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The children said there are only a few times that the cases are reported and the perpetrators arrested and taken to court. They also claimed that due to the inefficiencies of the court system, many of these cases are not heard for years.

The IRCU Gender Based Violence (GBV) prevention specialist, Mr. Edwin Kayuki, said it is important to involve religious leaders in matters of violence against children because they are  trusted, listened to; and are usually impartial when providing guidance and counselling.

“Everyone has a faith they subscribe to. It is important that religious leaders are equipped with the skills and knowledge to protect children from especially sexual violence, and they should also join hands to lobby government for the improvement of policies that concerns themselves with violence against children,” Mr. Kayuki said.

He also said that there is need for religious leaders to open up their spaces to listen to the pleas parents and children have to make in regards to any form of violence, since it is not just physical and sexual violence.

This two day convention was held at Silver Springs hotel in Bugolobi, a Kampala suburb, where the guest of honor, the first lady of the republic of Uganda, who is also the Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology, Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni, launched the Children’s parenting guidelines.

She also encouraged everyone to work together to help nature children in love and care right from family level, which is the foundation of a stable society.

“If we pooled ourselves together and worked together and depended on each other, we would save our children,” Mrs. Museveni said.

This event was organized by UCRNN in partnership with IRCU as a convener, AFRIchild, Child fund, Save the Children, Plan International and SOS Children’s village, amongst others.