A SENIOR superintendent of Police in charge of children affairs has asked Parliament to raise the consent age from 18 to 22 years in order to stamp out early marriages.
â€œAt 18 years, a girl is just in S4, which means she is still young and under the care of her parents. But as the Police, we cannot push a man who engages her in a love affair because constitutionally, such a girl is an adult,â€ Florence Kirabira said.
She made the appeal during a debate on child issues organised by the Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children.
Kirabira explained that most parents, because they want to avoid responsibility, marry off their daughters once they make 18 years.
She added that if the age is increased, it would help many girls acquire education.
Isingiro South MP Alex Byarugaba concurred with Kirabira, saying at 18 years, most girls are still in school.
He also observed that defilement should not be categorised.
â€œHow could you charge a man who has defiled a five-year-old girl after enticement with simple defilement? This should be scrapped if we want to tackle defilement,â€ Byarugaba said.
Citing his constituency where parents threatened to kill him because of pursuing a defilement case, Byarugaba said parents were also responsible for increasing the vice.
He added that in most cases, parents accept money from offenders and claim that their daughters are above 18 years.
A state attorney in charge of birth registration, Juliet Luggya, said the constitutional affairs ministry is working out an amendment to the birth and registration Act. She said this will enable birth registration to be done via an SMS using mobile phones.
Luggya explained that a mother, upon delivering, will send an SMS to the registry with details of the child and its parents. The parents, Luggya added, will then pick the birth certificate at their convenience.
She, however, stressed that one would be required to provide documentary proof from the hospital where the child was born at the time of collecting the birth certificate.
Luggya added that birth registration is important to prove a childâ€™s age in case of defilement.
To enforce the registration of children, the legislators suggested that it should be made a prerequisite for a child to be admitted in school.
Police want consent age raised to 22 years