Aciom: Trafficked for Ritual Sacrifice and Now Lives on to Achieve Her Dream (Pt 1)

Posted July 30, 2019 from Uganda

Human trafficking has been in existence from time immemorial. The abolition of slave trade did not stop this evil practice. Today this practice continues to be performed by perpetrators who are people close to the victims. I met Aciom (not real name) 15 years ago through a friend and came to know that she was a survivor who was trafficked for ritual child sacrifice when she was about 7 years. Now in late 30s Aciom was able to narrate her ordeal to me, a story she shares with pain and tears

Uganda has passed laws to stop the inhuman practices; i.e. the Prevention of Trafficking of Persons Act (2009), Child sacrifice and mutilations Act (2013). Girls and women often tend to be more vulnerable to trafficking. However, the enforcement of these laws to protect, prevent and prosecute offenders remains a challenge. Statistics on human persons in Uganda is difficult to obtain because it is a covert activity. The U.S (2005) estimates that between 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked annually worldwide across international borders. Internal human trafficking data is almost not available.

Aciom remembers being forcefully (abducted) form her village (about 300 kilometres away) and brought to Kampala city by a corporate woman who had promised to take good care of her. She was delivered to the house of a woman she then learnt was a ritualist. She was kept in a small room like a prisoner under tight watch. In that compound lived another family lived in a detached house with house maids. In this semi completed house was a care taker whose spouse was a ritualist and so had established her shrine in the far end of the enclosed compound.

It is common that people in Kampala city mind their own business with negligible attention on what happens in their surroundings. However, the tight watch Aciom was subjected to attracted keen attention of the house maids in the neighborhood who began discussing among themselves. Eventually the house maid from Aciom’s compound divulged the secret to others that a corporate woman had brought Aciom for ritual sacrifice and this would happen in the next 3 days. The maid who took food to Aciom every day heard the ritualist say that her time for sacrifice was the following day.

A day to Aciom’s fateful day of sacrifice, Mama Ketura’s maid in panic and fear confided in her what was going on. Mama Ketura told them to sneak out Aciom into her house. The house maids then plotted Aciom’s escape in just a few hours. Mama Ketura’s house was 2 plots away from where Aciom was confined. As far as 10 years ago, Uganda had no laws prohibiting trafficking of persons so of concern to Mama Ketura was the murder which was about to be committed. So she made a report to the nearest police post of a lost child in her custody. Due to lack of facilities to take care of children with the police, she was asked to keep the child until the relatives were located. The housemaids successfully sneaked out Aciom without notice of the ritualist.

On the D-day of the ritual, the ritualist realized that the girl for sacrifice was missing; a door to door search was mounted in the neighborhood. On arriving in Mama Ketura's (not real name) home, where Aciom was kept, Ketura acknowledged that she had the child, and demanded that they go to the police for an order/authorization for the release of the child to her. This response did not go well with the ritualist. Amidst threats and coercion Mama Ketura had no choice but to let the ritualist know that she was aware that the purpose for which she sought the girl (Aciom) was human sacrifice for her client. The ritualist in fear quickly retreated saying she can keep the girl till further notice. This is how Aciom survived the knife of a ritualist.

Although there are no precise statistics of human trafficking in Uganda due to the nature of the offense, the act is known to be rampant. It is necessary that the government steps up approaches to eliminating the vice of human trafficking within Uganda by creating awareness on the laws, implications, risks, and dangers at community level. It’s also important to educate the populations on the referral pathways;  where should they report or go to seek help. (Part 2 to be published)



Comments 7

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Jill Langhus
Jul 30, 2019
Jul 30, 2019

Hi Ikirimat,

Thanks for sharing your disturbing story of poor Aciom and spreading awareness on this challenge.. It sounds like she got lucky, but that it still plagues her. Has she been able to seek counseling at any point to address the trauma inflicted? I'm eager to see the second part of the story to see how she is faring now and what your organization does to help these survivors.

Hope you're having a good day.

Jul 30, 2019
Jul 30, 2019

I called it the modern day slavery. This time it's with your consent. Hmmm, it's time to wise up. All is not about money. When we got life all is possible. We must all stop acting desperate. If we do we can be victims. Thanks for sharing.

Rahmana Karuna
Jul 30, 2019
Jul 30, 2019

no words. thank you for sharing Aciom's story. i await part 2.

Tamarack Verrall
Jul 30, 2019
Jul 30, 2019

Dear Grace,
This is the horror that we live with, that such cruelty has been going on fo so long, and that it continues. How painful that women would do this to others. Those with the heart, the courage and the determination to save lives, such as those who saved Aciom, create hope in us all. Those who continue to work for the freedom of all and a world in which all violence is stopped, are the ones I am so grateful to learn about and link arms with. Your story brings to light the profound importance of brave action together.
Much love in sisterhood,

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Jul 31, 2019
Jul 31, 2019

Hello, Ikirimat,

How troubling that it happened to Aciom, but heartbreaking to know there are thousands of Acioms out there who might not be able to escape. Ouch!

Thank you for sharing this story, sister.

Beth Lacey
Jul 31, 2019
Jul 31, 2019

How can people be so horrible? This is so sad

Anita Shrestha
Sep 29, 2019
Sep 29, 2019

Dear Ikirmat
Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking event. Plz share other remaining part too.