Uganda: Tourist visits to orphanages putting children at risk

  • Tourist boom and orphanage tourism endangering children

  • Child marriage rates among the world’s highest

  • Refugee children and those in poverty most at risk

As tourist arrivals rise in Uganda, increasing numbers of travelling child sex offenders may be accessing victims through orphanage ‘voluntourism’ programmes says a new ECPAT report.

As tourism has grown, the Ugandan orphanage industry has also boomed it says. Foreigners often pay thousands of dollars to ‘volunteer’ with orphaned children. Over the past three decades, the number of children in orphanages in Uganda has increased from approximately 1,000 in the 1990s to more than 50,000 today. However, many of these orphanages operate with little regulation, and put children at risk of sexual exploitation and other harms. Many are primarily income generating institutions – whose inmates still have living parents. In some cases, the free education, food, and clothing provided by orphanages may even motivate parents to send their children and separate them from their families.

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