By Moses Mulondo and Moses Walubiri
Parliament has sounded a wake-up call to government, community leaders, and parents to combine efforts to pull down the high rate of teenage pregnancy in the country.
Giving her opening remarks during Tuesday’s parliament plenary, the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga urged various stakeholders to intervene on the high rate of teenage pregnancy in the country.
“Last Sunday, I launched a national campaign against teenage pregnancy. I request the health ministry to spread this campaign across the country,” Kadaga said.
Referring to reports that teenage pregnancy in Butaleja has reached 46%, the speaker said teenage pregnancy has many problems like causing young girls to dropout of school and diseases like fistula which are linked to early pregnancies.
With a 25% rate of child mothers, Uganda is among the countries with the highest teenage pregnancies in Africa.
Out of the 4,860 deliveries in the three main Government aided health centres between July 2009 and June 2010, 505 of them were by girls below 18 years of age.
The survey also showed that most child mothers were either orphans or came from broken families.
According to the African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), sexual exploitation among children is responsible for the increase in teenage pregnancies.
The ANPPCAN report indicates that at least 628 children are defiled in Uganda every month.
Reacting to the speaker’s concern, Koboko woman MP Margaret Babadi said, “Who are these men impregnating our young girls? Government should do something about it.”
Kaliro woman MP Flavia M. Nabugera said, “The problem has been laxity of the media and other stakeholders about the high rate of immorality in the country. Laws have been made but are not implemented. Media managers should think about the future of our children are they publish pornographic content.”
The minister for ethics and integrity, Fr. Simon Lokodo condemned men who seduce young girls into early sex.
“It is very unfortunate that a big number of our children get into these premature conducts. In my culture issues of sex were only discussed at mature age. I blame this on the laxity environment we have created. Teachers and parents have not played their role well in guiding these young people,” Lokodo argued.
He promised that his ministry would soon issue guidelines for teachers and parents to guide their children well and prevent them from early pregnancies.
Aruu County MP Odonga Otto said, “The major problem is because pornography laws are not being implemented by government. Nude pictures are everywhere. Government should act on televisions which are broadcasting sexually immoral movies.”
Meanwhile the Mukono municipality MP Betty Nambooze urged parliament to seek an explanation from government on the concerns by the Tooro king Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru who she claimed has embarked on a hunger strike to protest what he calls creation of chiefdoms within his kingdom by government.
Asking government to give the necessary explanation, the speaker also said parliament would discuss the concerns while considering a petition by the Tooro kingdom youths on the demand for the return of their properties, which was brought to parliament about a month ago.
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Parliament sounds wakeup call on teenage pregnancy