She was collecting water when he attacked. Now he’s behind bars!
Earlier this month (April 2022), a child rapist was arrested in Mukono, Uganda, a bustling town on the outskirts of the capital city, Kampala. Like a vile predator, he laid in wait to pounce on the next innocent, defenseless, and vulnerable child who wandered across his path.
13-year-old “Tricia”* was his latest and last victim. He stalked her as she trekked to a well to collect water. When she was alone, he ambushed her, dragged her into the brush, and raped her. Then, he told her he’d kill her and her family with a machete if she told a soul.
I can’t begin to imagine how terrified she must have been to collect water the next day, and the day after. He attacked her three more times in this way before she finally told her mother who told the police.
We know from our Community Action Teams (CATs) that the Ugandan police struggle to catch criminals, investigate crime scenes, and take victims for medical exams simply because they don’t have access to transportation to get where they need to go. Most officers rely on their own funds (or the victim’s) to respond to crimes. All too often, those funds are not available and cases go cold.
When we heard about this case, we offered to cover the costs associated with investigating this case (along with future cases of sexual violence against children.) Our Mukono-based partner, Petros Zoe, agreed to work with the police to ensure the perpetrator was arrested, the crime scene was investigated, and the survivor received medical attention.
The grand total for this was $41. The difference between detaining a predator and leaving him free to rape more children was a matter of $41.
I think just about everyone I know would happily fork over $41 to put a child sexual predator behind bars. And while it would certainly help, it won’t bring an end to the problem.
We can’t end the problem by throwing money at it. But we can empower local leaders — including government officials, law enforcement officers, church leaders, child protective services, prosecutors, and medical and mental health professionals — to work together to develop effective, coordinated strategies for addressing the needs of children impacted by sexual violence.
And that’s exactly what we’re doing through the Community Action Teams (CATs) we’re establishing in communities throughout Uganda. In addition to meeting the physical and emotional needs of child survivors, these CATs are also pursuing justice. And it’s working. With accountability from the CAT in place, fewer perpetrators are getting bribed out of jail and fewer case files are going missing from attorneys offices.
In time, maybe, hopefully, prayerfully, a day will come when children in Uganda won’t need our services to begin with. Children like Tricia.
(Tricia, by the way, is doing as well as we could hope. She’s safe, she’s healthy -no HIV! – she’s receiving emotional support, and she’s discovering hope and healing in Jesus.)
We’re excited to share that our second CAT is in the process of being formed! Our vision is to establish CATs in every district in Uganda. With your support, we believe we can do it.
Your prayers and support mean the world to us. Thank you!
*Not her real name