Public Opinion is Clear: Urgent Legislation Required to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation! Read the story

Launch of the Disrupting Harm Report for Uganda on Technology and the Sexual Exploitation of Children

Posted on Nov 16, 2021


In early 2019, the End Violence Partnership invested $7 million to develop Disrupting Harm, a holistic and innovative research project that aims to better understand how digital technology facilitates the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

The Partnership brought together and funded three global organisations – ECPAT International, INTERPOL and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti – to undertake new research in 13 countries across Eastern and Southern Africa and Southeast Asia. This type of high-quality research and assessment is new and unique in that it uses a multi-sector approach and the specific expertise of these three global agencies and their local partners. 

We have launched our latest country report – Uganda – click here to read the report and explore more information under the Country Reports tab below. 


Disrupting Harm in Uganda is the second in a series of reports which shared the findings of children’s perceptions of and participation in various online practices, as well as their experiences of online child sexual exploitation in Uganda. Read the full report here. 

Disrupting Harm in Uganda has highlighted a number of key areas when dealing with online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA):

  • Disrupting Harm in Uganda found that boys & girls were equally likely to experience online sexual exploitation and abuse. Yet 98% of reports were made by girls. This is very concerning, as it may indicate boys are not reporting incidents. 
  • OCSEA mostly occurs on social media. 10% of the surveyed children were offered money or gifts for sexual images or videos of themselves in the past year.
  • 9% of children surveyed reported having sexual images of themselves shared with others without their consent. 
  • Many children did not report any incident of OCSEA to anyone. They expressed not knowing who to report to or where to seek help. 
  • Child advocate professionals said victim blaming by the police sometimes deterred children from reporting. The common reason for not reporting OCSEA was “not thinking anything would change”.
  • Law enforcement, the justice system, and social services lack awareness, capacity, and resources to respond to cases of OCSEA. 
  • The interviewed children were not able to  bring their case to justice through the court system. Some important OCSEA-related legislation, policies and standards are not yet enacted in Uganda.
  • Internet-using children in Uganda are subjected to OCSEA. Most offenders of OCSEA are someone the child already knows. OCSEA can happen while children spend time online or in person but involving technology. 


Data collection took place from early 2020 through to early 2021 with the cooperation of the Government of Uganda and a wide range of public bodies and other organisations active in the country. 


To ensure cutting-edge results from this research endeavour, advice was sought from global experts on the Disrupting Harm in Uganda findings and recommendations. A list of the members of the Panel of Advisors can be found here.


Leveraging the unique and comprehensive evidence gathered, Disrupting Harm in Uganda identifies to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation, both online and offline in Uganda.


The analysis for Disrupting Harm in Uganda was finalised in May 2021. The recommendations were discussed further at a national consultation on 19 August 2021.


ECPAT International – carried out nine interviews with senior national duty-bearers (method & report); non-law enforcement data collection providing insights on the nature and scale of OCSEA in Uganda; a survey consisting of a sample of 50 client-facing frontline workers in Uganda (method & report); six interviews with 15-21 year old children and their caregivers who had accessed the legal system for OCSEA cases (method & report); 11 interviews with criminal justice professionals; and a literature review of legislation, policy and systems addressing OCSEA (method & legal analysis).


INTERPOL– collected and analysed both qualitative and quantitative data from national law enforcement agencies, relevant specialised units and partner organisations to measure the scope and nature of OCSEA, and conducted a qualitative assessment on the capacity of national law enforcement authorities to respond to OCSEA cases by interviewing serving officers.


UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti – carried out a national representative household survey of 1,016 children aged 12 to 17 in Uganda, who have used the internet in the three months prior to the interview. One parent/caregiver of each child was also surveyed as part of the data collection. The survey achieved 96% fieldwork coverage in Uganda.