Street families have been growing in numbers in Museveni’s territory, a situation that has forced Uganda’s long arm of the law to intervene without fear or favor.
Statistics by the government estimate that there are as many as 15,000 children live on the streets in Kampala, aged from seven up to the age of 17. Turns out that those street families use their children to attract sympathy from passers-by who are kind enough to throw some good money their way, enough to save the day.
However, these children end up as victims of sexual exploitation, while some turn to criminal activities and drug abuse. Putting them through rehabilitation centers or reform institution has not been good enough of a solution until the lawmakers reached out to the root of it all, Money.
The government of Uganda has passed a bill making it a criminal offence to offer money, food or a donation to any street child.The few who choose to defy of this new law could face up to six months in jail or a fine of (£8.20) Sh1,114.
According to Kampala’s mayor, Erias Lukwago, the law penalizes traffickers, agents and parents of the children found begging or selling items on the street. The law also makes it illegal to lease or rent a house to a child for immoral activities or for a child to engage in petty trade, a common tactic for survival. The aim of the law is to curb the commercial and sexual exploitation of children.
“It’s now a lucrative business for some individuals who procure these kids from various parts of the country and bring them on to the streets of Kampala. It’s a business. We want to bring that to an end,” he said.
The law is currently restricted to the city of Kampala and is yet to penetrate into the other cities in Uganda. But the beggars are not ready to trade off their source of livelihood just yet and are wiling to face prison id shit hits the fan.
One Annie Katuregye, aged 60 street beggar said she used children to accompany her in order to gain enough sympathy from passers-by to give money.
“As long as we see children coming, we’ll force our way on the streets. We are ready to be imprisoned,” she added