The war against child sexual abuse is far from over considering its rising toll in the form of victims of the vice.
However, it is worth acknowledging the efforts of some of the heroes who have championed the fight against perpetrators, in the hope that they can inspire many more to enlist and possibly root it out.
One of the heroes in this war is Gerald Katongole, the Assistant District Education Officer (DEO) of Gomba district. One of Katongole’s greatest contributions perhaps has been the crusade he has waged across the district where he gets the opportunity to meet with teachers, parents and children.
Katongole spares no effort in making parents, teachers and children aware of the serious health, social and economic consequences of men sexually molesting children including infecting them with disease, chaining the victims and their families to a lifetime of poverty and despair and condemning the district and possibly the entire country to a legacy of backwardness.
One such a meeting took place at Amir Ntambi Memorial Secondary School, one of the newly established secondary schools in rural Ngeribalya, Mpenja sub-country of Gomba district.
Katongole went beyond sensitizing the community of Ngeribalya about the consequences of child abuse, but gave them assurances that he would be their best ally whenever they identify a child sexual abuser.
He was proud of his record of arresting teachers and parents who’ve been caught or suspected of molesting children sexually.
Katongole pointed to a few recent cases where he has actively participated in getting the perpetrators get arrested for their actions.
In one incident, Katongole personally arrested a teacher identified as Suleiman Nkajja, a teacher from Bukandula UMEA following a tip off from a member of the school management committee. Katongole reveals that he made sure he arrested and handed over Nkajja to the Police following reports that the perpetrator had molested his Primary 7 student.
Katongole told parents and the teachers of Ntambi that: “I want to warn teachers that I will not spare anyone who is caught abusing girls.”
Besides the fact that he is a father of some girls, Kangole revealed that the relatively high rate of school dropout in Gomba district, which is attributed to early marriages, is one of his motivating factors behind his campaign against child sexual abusers.
Another incident in which Kantongole has actively participated, sometimes using his own transport means, involved a parent who impregnated his 13-year old step daughter. According to Katongole, the community members contacted him after hearing of his no nonsense attitude to sexual abusers.
Katongole however deplores the fact that his efforts have been frustrated by the ignorance among parents and teachers about the consequences as well as the procedures of handling victims of child sexual abuse. The commonest mistake many people with reports of sexual abuse commit is to allow the victim to wash away evidence by bathing.
The other challenge, he points out, is the lack of resources by the responsible government officers I.e the police officer and the Community Development Officer (CDO) to carry out independent home visits, which are part of the process of gathering evidence against child sexual abusers.
Besides reducing the rate of school drop out rates in his district, estimated at 25% of all primary pupils, Katongole believes that his girl children and the rest in that category will encounter less difficulties in the course of studying.
One of my biggest motivations is the very low number of females applying for Jobs in the district.
“We just recently got the first female member of staff in our department (education) at the district. This is enough testament about the effects of child abuse, and how it suffocates the future for hundreds of thousands of women in this country,” said Katongole.