By Jeff Andrew Lule
In an effort to curb the escalating cases of teenage pregnancy and child marriage in Mubende district, leaders with support from other organizations have embarked on a new campaign to combat the vice.
The campaign targets schools and local communities.
Reach a Hand Uganda team leader, Humphrey Nabimanya and the district health educator, Charles Kawuma sensitizing children of St. Mary's Primary School
According to leaders, the vice has led to rampant domestic violence, school dropouts, collapse of families, alcoholism, and child headed families among others.
The campaign was launched during a community inter-generation dialogue at Mayor's garden in Mubende town council on Wednesday, organized by the Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU) supported by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Rutgers Foundation and the district.
Charles Kawuma, the District Health Educator (DHE), noted that 25% of the women who visit the various health centres for antenatal services are girls below the age of 17.
"But we also get even those 12 and 11 years. One out of every five girls who visit health centres is either married or pregnant," he added.
One of the residents of Mubende Town Council, Dorothy Muwanguzi sharing during the community dialogue on Teenage pregnancies and Child marriages at Mayor's Gardens in Mubende district.
He blamed parents who do not play their role, poverty, lack of awareness of sex education in schools and communities among others.
"Many parents do not support their daughters in adolescence stage thus exposing them to more risks," Kawuma added.
The senior district Community Development Officer (CDO), Mariam Nagawa said they have handled 50 cases of defilement since the year started.
"But parents refuse to record statements, others report late thus making it hard to pursue the cases. Others do not report the cases at all and marry off their children," Nagawa added.
Humphrey Nabimanya, RAHU team leader, said the fight needs a collective responsibility and engagement to fight the vice in the district and country at large.
Ritah Nanono, a nurse at Mubende Health Centre IV, said there is need for more sex education in schools for students to understand the dangers of making wrong choices and where to go in case of any problem.
Capt. Patrick Katuramu, the senior-man at Mubende Army Secondary School, said early sex puts girls at higher risk of contracting HIV.
Reach a Hand Uganda team leader, Humphrey Nabimanya sensitizing children of St. Mary's Primary School
Michael Mugume, 14, a student at Mubende Army blamed girls for dressing half naked which tempts boys.
Figures at the population secretariat also indicate that over 300,000 girls get pregnant per year and according to Mary Karooro Okurut, the minister of Gender, 57% of girls in Uganda are married off before clocking the consent age of 18.
Students of Mubende Army School acting in a play about child marriages and Teenage pregnancies at Mayor's Garden in Mubende Town Council on Wednesday
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Mubende embarks on campaign against teenage pregnancies