By Francis Emorut
The children of Uganda want government to step up sanitary pads distribution for the girl child in primary schools and punish perpetrators of defilement and rape.
Pupils of Mengo, Kisoko and Amenemoti primary schools voiced their concern in a petition presented to gender minister Mary Karooro Okurut.
“There has been a pilot project for the distribution of sanitary pads in schools. The distribution should be carried out countrywide because it is a problem to all Ugandan girls,” Henry Kevin, a pupil of Mengo Primary School told the minister.
Karooro Okurut (centre) signs on a board as a sign of commtment to protect the girl child after the children presented her a petition on girl child protection at the ministry headquarters in Kampala. Photo/Francis Emorut
“On behalf of Children of Uganda, in line with the theme of Day of African Child we would like you to advocate for increased investment in girl child education. Girls have specific challenges some of these include early and forced marriages and rape and defilement,” the children said in their petition.
The children also advocated for the girls who get pregnant while at school to be re-admitted so as to continue with their studies after giving birth.
They also want government to pass Sexual Offences Bill to punish rapists and defilers.
While receiving the petition at the ministry headquarters in Kampala on Wednesday the minister stressed the need for stiff punishment for culprits.
“How can an old man of 80 years old marry a girl of 12 and he gets away with it?" Karooro asked.
“This is aggravated defilement and the old man should be punished,” she said.
The minister agreed with the contents of the children’s petition and pledged government’s commitment.
“Government is committed for the protection of both girl and boy child,” she said.
To show government’s commitment, the minister signed on the children’s board calling for commitment.
She cautioned the school administration against rejecting child mothers from returning back to school.
“Girls who get pregnant should be allowed back to school after giving birth,” she said.
Virginia Saiz, the program support manager of Plan Uganda called upon government to act on the children’s petition.
“The children are the ones affected and therefore, government should address the gaps and act and this becomes a reality for the children,” Saiz said.
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Children petition Govt on sanitary pads distribution, sex crimes