Campaign against early marriages, failed parenthood takes root

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The Vice President, H.E. Jessica Alupo, in her statement to Parliament said the campaign is given impetus because of the increase in cases of domestic violence, defilement and teenage pregnancy.

In her remarks to Parliament on Wednesday, 01 December 2021, the Vice President said prolonged closure of schools due to the Covid pandemic has exposed gaps such as poor enforcement of laws and bad social practices.

“Failed parenthood and vulnerability of girls has led us to witness unprecedented levels of defilement, domestic violence and sexual abuse leading to increased teenage pregnancies and early marriages,” she stated.

In a study by the United Nations Population Fund, a total of 354,736 teenage pregnancies were recorded in 2020 while 290,219 pregnancies were registered between January and September.

Alupo said, “this implies that over 32,000 teenage pregnancies are registered per month with the regions most affected being Busoga, Buganda, Lango and Western region.”

She said there is a campaign to undertake structured social dialogue with key stakeholders to create awareness about such evils, agree on sustainable solutions and to direct the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to take action against the vices.

Honourable Margaret Rwabashaija (Ind. Workers) said the campaign should incorporate female genital mutilation because it qualifies as a form of violent acts against women and girls.

“This matter of defilement should also be resolved, with the perpetrators being arrested and the law taking its course. The children who drop out of school because of any form of sexual violence should be rehabilitated and put back in school,” she advised.

Martin Ojara Mapenduzi (Ind. Bardege-Layibi Division) said at the heart of these vices is poverty. He proposed strengthening of cultural institutions to denounce such vices in the community.

The NRM MP representing Kazo County, Dan Atwijukyire, said the dignity of the girl child is a salient matter that must be taken seriously and as part of the campaign, the government should provide reusable sanitary pads.

“We should demonstrate a commitment to the young women of this country to show that we are concerned by providing them free reusable sanitary pads,” he said.

The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among, supported the proposal stating that the need for sanitary towels is the reason some girls go to men for money to purchase these items.

“It is not expensive for the country to acquire and roll-out these sanitary items and it is worth consideration,” she added.

William Museveni (Ind. Buwekula South County) suggested that as government advocates for a violence and abuse-free society for the girls, parents need to be encouraged and sensitized on mindset change to take full charge and responsibility of their children.

“Parents need to be told that it is not government’s responsibility but their primary duty to take care of their children; of which negligence should be punishable,” he said.

Museveni added that some parents are complicit in pushing for early marriages of their children in exchange for bridal gifts.

Government plans to launch the campaign on Friday, 3 December 2021.

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