“The father installed a digital camera after attaching it to the desktop computer and placed it in the sitting room. He left the camera running till the 13th day of November 2014. During that day, the accused seriously assaulted the victim. She slapped her, pulled her down on the floor, struck her at the back with a torch several times. She kicked her and stepped on her.”
That is how the brutal assault of a baby by 22-year-old Jolly Tumuhirwe, as seen in a widely-circulated video, was described in a court recording. As the video was shared on social media, #evilnanny started trending, describing what many Ugandans thought of the perpetrator.
i don trust nannies n helpers and after seing the video i don trust them more. #EvilNanny
— palai mafora (@MoralengSoulful) November 24, 2014
Before this incident, a different story had been on the news a couple of days before. A Kampala City Council Association (KCCA) car had knocked down, and killed, a two-year-old boy in front of KCCA court premises while his mother was held. She had been arrested for hawking in the city centre.
During her trial, however, she was allegedly refused the right to nurse the baby who somehow sneaked away to the parking area. KCCA governs Kampala, the capital of Uganda. And while it has been praised for bringing some organisation and cleanliness to a disorganised and poorly-administered city, it has also been criticised for its occasionally excessive methods.
Vendors who fall foul of the ban restricting them from operating in certain spaces are some of the recipients of its hard line punishment; the arrest and prosecution in court of a mother for hawking bananas in the city centre is an example of how KCCA tends to deal with issues.
The conversation that we should be having though, in my opinion, is about child care. Why, for example, don’t court premises have childcare facilities?
Women in Uganda go to work in buildings that don’t provide the option of a day care centre for children, even when a paid service. And – especially since the trend now is all for male engagement (think #menengage and #heforshe) – this is a requirement that men should also see as necessary. It was, after all, a father who installed the hidden camera that recorded the brutal abuse of the child.
The lack of a comprehensive childcare system means that we have outsourced taking care of children to young girls we hire from our villages. The system has a young girl, a child herself, now responsible for the growth and wellbeing of another child. And to that child, we pay a salary too little to do anything for her, and we almost always treat her as a second-class citizen.
There’s a parent who hired a university student to watch his children for an average of two hours a day, five days a week. For this service, he paid her 350 000 Uganda Shillings (about US$130).Everyone around him thought that was exorbitant. His reason: I don’t expect her to watch my kids for the rest of her life, and I want to enable her to get where she wants to go. He is the minority.
So, while we bay for a maid’s blood and ask for justice, we should also look back into our own homes and see the system we have built. We should stop and think of the young girls who look after our children, wash our clothes, cook our food, and reflect on how we treat and pay them. It never has to get to this. A baby shouldn’t have to be kicked or killed. Maybe if we changed systems, and considered professional (and costlier, yes) childcare, then there would be little or no need to sacrifice and torture children.
Jolly Tumuhirwe was sentenced to 4 years in jail earlier today. Main photograph taken from www.survivingdating.com