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Early child marriages blamed on decaying social structures

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th December 2014 10:36 AM

RAMPANT early child marriages in rural communities in the country have been blamed on breakdown in social structures

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RAMPANT early child marriages in rural communities in the country have been blamed on breakdown in social structures

By Carol Kasujja

 

RAMPANT early child marriages in rural communities in the country have been blamed on breakdown in social structures.

 

Speaking in a press conference held at Action for Develoment (ACFODE) head office, Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, Professor, School of Women and Gender Studies said the role of paternal aunties in preparing girls for marriage is diminishing which leaves girls more vulnerable and not knowledgeable about marriage hence contributing to early pregnancies.

 

“Now days paternal aunties known as ‘ssengas’  no longer give girls moral and social support in marriage all they focus on is  sexual performance in bed and money which leaves girls vulnerable and not knowledgeable in a number of things,” Kyomuhendo said.

 

She added that adolescent girls currently have extremely limited access to appropriate reproductive health information and services, including family planning which contributes to early pregnancies and child birth both inside and outside of marriage, with the latter increasingly common, becoming in a sense, a descriptive norm in the study communities.

 

Almost two million Ugandan minors are forced or lured into early marriages on an annual basis, according to the African Human Social Development report 2012.

 

Further revelations from the UNICEF report observe that Uganda falls among the 15 worst African countries with high numbers of child brides in the world. This rate, estimates to be at 46%, is higher than the African average of 39%.

 

Daisy Immaculate Yossa, the Programme officer, Human Rights and Governance Department, ACFODE, asked the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development to track the completion and implementation of the National Children Protection Policy and roll out a comprehensive national sensitization Programme addressing the root of causes of child marriage as means of ensuring that children are protected against early marriages.

 

“We want the ministry of gender to fulfil its commitments made at the UK Girls Summit 2014 on the abandonment of female mutilation and elimination of child marriages, in this regard the ministry should fast track the completion and implementation of the National Children Protection Policy,” Yossa explained.

 

Yossa also urged the Justice Law and Oder sector to enforce and uphold the national and policies that end the practice of the Ugandan constitution which puts the age of full consent and marriage at 18 years and above for both men and women.

 

Phiona Kabahubya, Programme coordinator, Joy of Children Uganda, said there is need to also bring boys/men on board if they are to deal with the alarming rate of early marriages in rural communities.

 

She further said that poverty and ignorance in rural communities have greatly led to the increase of early child marriages which leaves them highly vulnerable to sexual and reproductive health problems.

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