By George Busiinge
In the outskirt of Hoima Municipality, six year old Joan Kusiima lives with her stepmother under constant pressure and fear. Young Kusiima is forced to prepare a meal for a family of 12 people among other atrocious inflicted on her at that tender age.
Kusiima in a heartbreaking revelation told Earthfinds that she is not only made to cook for the large family but she is also denied the chance to go to school like many of her age mates. Instead, this website learnt, Kusiima is made to look after her young step sisters and brothers.
She also spends much of her time looking after domestic animals, doing domestic work like collecting firewood and water. She is sometimes forced by her stepmother to go and till the farm from morning up to lunch time.
An eye witness told us that despite all efforts by Kusiima to accomplish what her step- mother tells her to do, the toddler is beaten by the woman who is supposed to protect, be her mother and guardian.
Joyce Kyomusiime, the child’s stepmother, when contacted denied the allegations including that her step-daughter got burnt when she forcefully made her prepare a full saucepan of porridge for the family.
It is alleged that Kyomusiime told Kusiima to lift the hot saucepan with hot boiled porridge from the fire spitting charcoal stove without the help and supervision of an adult.
The stepmother apparently threatened to beat the child if she did not do what she was being instructed to do.
Kyomusiime said: “I have never forced Kusiima to prepare a meal for the whole family because she is vulnerable. Never have I instructed her to do any house work. She got burnt when playing with other children in the kitchen. There is nothing I know about what those who claim to be eye witnesses are saying.”
Kusiima is nursing serious wounds in a small clinic around Kiryateete, outside Hoima town, after efforts to get money that would enable her get better treatment failed. She is now being helped by Good Samaritans from a catholic church within Hoima.
Grace Bigabwekya, the mid-western police regional head of Family and child protection unit confirmed the heinous act saying that such incidences of hidden child labour are common in Hoima district but those who are involved will be prosecuted in courts of law.
It is difficult to know when these cases of hidden child abuses are committed because inside households and are never reported. “We are fighting the vice when such stepmothers and fathers are got they will be prosecuted in the courts of law without any mercy.” Bigabwekya told Earthfinds in Hoima, at his office.
“We are still hunting for Kyomussime and she if arrested, she will be taken to court when investigations are complete to answer the charges of child abuse.” He added.