Number of child pregnancies worry Kamuli

It is now a common sight in Kamuli district to see a girl of less than 15 years attending an antenatal clinic.

Despite efforts to end child sexual abuse, the numbers are hitting records high with more than 7,000 cases of underage girls who were recorded to have attended antenatal clinics by December 31, 2017.

Owing to this worrying trend, Speaker of Parliament who is also the Kamuli district Woman MP, Rebecca Kadaga wants authorities to enforce the law against anyone engaged in an activity encouraging early child marriages and teenage pregnancy.

She also supported the Kamuli District Ordinance that provides for the arrest of anyone who takes part in a wedding ceremony of young children.

Kadaga said that the statistics are mind boggling of children aged 10 being recorded in antenatal clinics.

Kadaga speaking during the commemoration of the day of the African Child

“Why should a child at that age [of 10 years] be married with children and who is this marrying them?” Kadaga wondered.

She was speaking during the Kamuli district’s version of the Day of the African Child held at Nawanyago under a theme; “Leave no child out of development.”

Kadaga said that civil servant who engages in sexual abuse especially towards a child should be interdicted and also named and shamed so that they are embarrassed.

“I want to encourage you young people to go to school so that you can be useful in shaping the future of your country,” she said.

Patrick Emukule, the Manager of Plan International, Kamuli Branch said that this day is a day to commemorate the importance of children considering that the future of the world lies in their arms.

“We need to consider things that are likely to fail children in achieving their full potential which include child marriage and teenage pregnancy,” Emukule said.

Emukule noted that issues like child marriage and teenage pregnancy are dooming the future of the girls and there is need to join hands to fight this vice.

“7000 girls have attended antenatal in Kamuli District in 2017 which is alarming; We need a multi stakeholder intervention including the district leaders and even families,” he said.

Marvin Atugonza, representative of Children said that this day calls for all children’s involvement in the development of the country.

“The future of our nation is in your hands and therefore we need to be involved in the decision making process for the development of the country be it social, political and economic,” Atugonza said.

Atugonza asked the government to create a suitable environment for the children to thrive and become successful.

Thomas Kategere, the district’s LC V chairmain wondered why a number of parents in the district had turned to marrying off their children before they are of age.

He asked government to come up with a law preventing people from marrying off their children.
Kategere also advised the children to refrain from engaging in sexual relationships.

“Life is about choices and if we make the wrong ones they are bound to affect our lives in future,” he added, noting that, “if you as a child decide to engage in sexual relationships you are exposing yourself STDs and poverty because you cannot afford to take care of a child when you are still in school”.

Bugabula South MP Moses Kibalya urged leaders at all levels to speak out against the vice which is threatening the future of the children.

“Parents, I appeal to you to always report any case of abuse against a child to Police and your leaders so that the perpetrators can be arrested and brought to book for their wrong doings,” Kibalya said.
Kibalya promised to support the fight against early childhood marriages and teenage pregnancy.