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Human Rights in Uganda

Emily Buckley: Children Affected by HIV/AIDS

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Emily Buckley, right, researched the plight of Ugandan children affected by HIV/AIDS.

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Contact: Rob Seal

Ugandan children suffering from HIV or AIDS, or whose parents have contracted the disease, are much more vulnerable to human rights abuses, according to second-year law student Emily Buckley.

In general, Uganda is considered to be at the forefront of African countries in terms of its response to the disease.  However, many children who suffer from HIV/AIDS also face social stigma and reduced access to services such as education, said Buckley, who spent her time in Uganda researching the plight of such children.

“I met with a 14-year-old girl who was HIV positive whose neighbors and parents taught her very differently because she was HIV positive,” Buckley said. “She basically was taunted by her neighbors every day, and her parents didn’t have enough money to send her to school.”

There are about two million orphans in Uganda. About half lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.

While in Uganda, Buckley met with officials at a school that was established for children suffering from the disease.

“They didn’t like to use the word orphanage, but it was a wider community for children who had no parents,” she said.

Some were 15 or 16 before they ever went to school.

Outside help is available in some cases, but Ugandan residents are sometimes suspicious of reforms that seem to be pushed on them from the outside. Still, many NGOs are working hard to overcome this cultural animosity, Buckley said. The 14-year-old girl is set to recieve school fees from one such group.

“I did meet a lot of organizations that are addressing the problems of child violence and economic abuse in a way that was really changing the community’s perceptions of how one should treat children, and of what makes a good family or a good village.”