JCU is part of a vast referral network. The LASPNET project coordinator contacted JCU Mukono and referred a matter involving a 16-year-old victim of both Sexual & Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and human trafficking. This is Lauren’s story!
Lauren dropped out of school when she was in Primary 6, because her parents could not afford school fees and her family saw this as an opportunity for her to engage in productive work. Early in 2021, her Aunt Becky, brought her to Mukono and handed her over to 42-year-old Jake, a UPDF Officer, to work as a house help. Things took a horrible turn in September when Jake started making sexual advances towards her. She alleged that Jake forcefully had sexual intercourse with her on several occasions and whenever she refused, he beat her up.
Lauren confided in Becky (her aunt) about the abuse thinking she would get help but Becky took advantage of the situation by unlawfully ‘marrying’ her niece off! Becky asked Jake for money as bride price and later told Lauren that she was now Jake’s “lawful wife”. With no way to communicate with her family and having been betrayed by her aunt, she continued bearing the horrible abuse from Jake until Jake’s landlady noticed the unusual and suspicious situation and encouraged her to report to the Local Authorities.
Feeling like there was finally a way out, Lauren reported the matter to the area LC but her hopes were dashed when her predicament was ignored and she was (wrongly) advised to first refund Jake’s bride price in order to be freed. Lauren sought solace in a local teenage boy but when Jake found out about this relationship, he beat her up terribly. This was too much for her and she finally called the LASPNET helpline for rescue.
JCU Mukono took on this case and immediately contacted Mukono Central Police Station because it was a matter of urgency! The girl had also intimated to LASPNET that the abuser had promised to take her to a barracks far away to keep her from ‘these village boys’. Police tracked down and arrested Jake together with Becky.
Lauren was rescued and examined only to discover that she was in fact pregnant with Jake’s child. The pregnancy plus Lauren and her neighbours’ statements, were enough evidence to have the file sanctioned and the suspects charged and remanded to prison. JCU furthermore, secured Lauren shelter by contacting UGANET that provides shelters for violence survivors. In November, JCU picked Lauren from the shelter in Ntinda and delivered her to her parent’s home in Bugiri.
JCU Mukono shall continue to follow up with Lauren and her parents, the DPP’s office, court and prisons to ensure that justice is served. The OC UPDF in Seeta where Jake was attached has since been informed and the UPDF shall also take disciplinary measures against him.