By Andrew Masinde
Busoga parents have been warned against marrying off under age girls. The vice deprives them of their bright future, state minister for gender, Rukia Nakadama has said.
The minister sounded teh warning at the launch of 'End child Marriages' campaign organised by World Vision Uganda in partnership with other child rights network in Bugiri District.
Nakadama said child marriage is associated with lower levels of schooling for girls in every region and is a barrier to international development goals.
“Educating a girl child creates many positive outcomes for economic development and poverty reduction by improving girls’ income earning potential and social economics status,” she advised.
She added that some parents perceive marriage as a social security to protect the girls and never think of the consequences afterwards.
“Early marriages and resultant pregnancies are the biggest cause of deaths among 12 to 19 year of girls accounting for 20% of maternal deaths in Uganda.
This has also led to high prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS in the country because older unsafe marry off young innocent girls,” she said.
She highlighted that the major cause of early marriages is poverty, child neglect and domestic violence, low value attached to education especially for girl child, religious and traditional beliefs and limited knowledge on children’s rights.
She asked parents to start small businesses to earn a living instead of contemplating marry off their girls to get wealth, reminding them to abide by the Constitution which stipulates that for a person to marry; he or she must be above 18 years of age.
The national director, World Vision Uganda, Gilbert Kamanga, said child marriage is a violation of human rights yet every day, girls and boys in Uganda are forced to marry against their will.
“While boys are also affected by these practices, more than 90% of the children married off under age are girls. As we launch this campaign today, more girls under the age of 16 are living in fear of being married off,” Kamanga explained.
“Parents should allow their children to complete school and have a future because good things are a head. The local leaders should also work with the police and child rights groups to see that this vice is kicked out of their areas,” he added.
He stressed that, according to the African human social development report (2013), almost two million Ugandan minors are forced in or lured into alleged marriages.
Uganda falls among the 15 worst African countries with high numbers of child bribes estimated at 40% forced or lured into marriage before 18years.
The launch was also graced by members of parliament from eastern region.
What others say
Tabuza Muzamil, a teacher at Buwunga primary school said, the rate of child drop out is high in the area; parents force their children to drop out of school because they want wealth which is not the case.
“This place would be having the richest people but they are still poor because the wealth they are given is just a penny yet the girls future is ruined,” he explained.
Zauma Timujibwa, a parent, said the main cause of child marriage in Busoga is poverty, parents only depend subsistence farming which is not enough to sustain the families.
“Parents need to sensitize on how to engage in commercial farming; they should also be warned against over producing the children because it is what causes poverty,” she said.