Mondo Kyateeka, the Commissioner of Youth and Children’s Affairs says that girls need to start reporting cases of cyber harassment through the line noting that all through the lockdown which involved school closures, they were receiving other cases such as sexual assault, incest and torture.
The Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development has
asked children who continue facing a risk of being harassed and exposed to inappropriate
materials as they study over the internet to report such cases directly to them
through the government toll-free line, also known as the Uganda Child helpline
Mondo Kyateeka, the Commissioner of Youth and Children’s Affairs says that girls need to start reporting cases of cyber harassment through the line noting
that all through the lockdown which involved school closures, they were receiving
other cases such as sexual assault, incest and torture.
He said when girls report these cases,
then they will be helped to apprehend the online criminals noting that
children are not being listened to enough at home to establish whoever
threatens their peace. He was speaking at a symposium which was part of the
events to mark the International Day of the Girl Child observed annually in
October, on Friday.
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In enabling children to report, Kyateeka says they have a
bigger plan to build a cadre of young girls that are confident considering that cyberbullying has even extended to powerful women citing the US Vice President
Harris Kamala’s abuse campaign that involved sexualized messages flooding
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But, the suggestion of just encouraging girls to report will
not help much, according to rights activists. James Yesiga, the
Country Manager for a Swiss child relief agency Teerre Des Hommes says instead
of relying on children reporting all problems of access to the internet
and aiding gadgets, the government ought to have how to make safe digital spaces
more accessible at as low as the sub-county level.
Away from the helpline, Yesiga says the government needs to be
proactive and develop technologies that can be able to identify abusers and
there’s prompt notification of authorities when a risk factor is detected.
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To him, recent moves such as the 12 per cent tax on the internet are
only cutting back on children being able to access the internet and familiarize
themselves with it while employing controls like age-appropriate ratings.
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Meanwhile, up to twenty girls that URN surveyed by asking
them to raise up their hands at the symposium had never heard about the
existence of such helplines where they can call in to seek help.
Seventeen-year-old Olive Adong who was among the girls says they have been using google class and WhatsApp
for up to a year but many times while
using her messages from strangers pop up requesting meetups and sexual
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Such are the things that the Ministry want to be reported but
Adong says she wouldn’t report for fear of being discriminated against.
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Meanwhile according to Tobby Ojok who heads Youth Engagement
at Plan International Uganda urges the government to urgently find a viable
solution to cyberbullying saying that it just doesn’t expose a child to
inappropriate content but also adversely affects their mental health.
He says they did a survey and in every ten girls that they
spoke to, nine reported either encountering false information online, being
bullied or accessing unsolicited pornographic content.