By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/ Umoja Standard.
Kyenjojo, Tooro Sub-Region: The Omukama of Tooro Kingdom His Royal Highness (HRH) Dr. Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukirabasaija IV on Friday implored his subjects to have amalgamated efforts in curbing all sort of behaviors that degrade the dignity of the girl-child.
As a champion of HIV/AIDS fight and human rights, ‘Omukama’ Oyo was concerned of the scaring reports from his Kingdom regarding teenage pregnancy, Gender-Based Violence, early marriages, school drop-outs and HIV/AIDS prevalence.
In his message presented by the Tooro Kingdom Prime Minister ‘Omuhikirwa’ Mr. Steven Kiyinji, King Oyo stated that it is better that the campaign is localized as ‘it will help every stakeholder to up-take the cause’.
He expressed with concern that at least 15 million girls worldwide are married before the age of 18 and this is not different with Tooro Sub-Region and Kyenjojo in particular.
Mr. Steven Kiyinji-Tooro Kingdom Prime Minister (Omuhikirwa) appends his signature on the commitment board on behalft of the King. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
“Forced marriage is a violence on women and young girls since many times this result into complications during delivery especially for young girls. It is therefore everyone’s role to protect the rights of girl-child and women”. He emphasized.
“Young girls here, I want to inform you that if you marry at an early age, you’ll have started an endless journey of poverty throughout your marriage so it is better to abhor it today”. He added in a statement.
He packaged young girls and boys with a scripture from 1Cor, 6:12 (Honor your God with your body…………, All things are lawful to me but not all are helpful)
“I am meant to learn that child marriage is a big obstacle in achieving Sustainable development Goals (1) and (5) of ending poverty and gender equality respectively by 2030”. He stated.
He implored Tooro Kingdom subjects to endeavor keep girls in school as this will help a lot to keep them safe for a bright future free from violence.
“My clarion call however, as you close this summit, is that ‘you come up with solemn enforceable and implementable plan of action so that we move from rhetoric to action. These must be multi-stakeholder and multi-level decisions to be implemented at the household, community, policy and national levels’”. He stated.
“I t is my commitment to support all efforts aimed at eliminating Child marriage and Teenage pregnancies and all other forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Tooro Kingdom and Beyond”. Submits King Dr. Oyo Nyimba.
Young girls are seen with placards with messages of call to action to end the vice of teenage pregnancy and child marriage. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
Important to note.
Uganda’s population is predominantly made up of young people, 37% of the population being school going aged between (6-19) while 32% being teenagers aged (13-19 years) according to UNPHC,2016.
‘School going teenagers spend over 80% of their time at learning institutions so they keep them in school and they are able to live to their dreams. So, it is important that this generation is kept in school in order for them to achieve in life’.
This year’s summit was organized under the Theme “Children need a society free from child marriage and teenage pregnancies”.
The success of the event was partners coming together that included; Baylor Uganda, Joy for Children Uganda, ACORD-UG, DEFORA, WHP, EKA Foundation, Care Uganda, Plan for Hope, Youths in Action for Development Initiative (YIDI), Bring Hope to Family, Government of Uganda and others.
The Kyenjojo District Chairman Mr. Rubaihayo Gilbert called on parents in the district to be heroes of not only their girl child but also boys believing that if this generation is well nurtured, ‘it is one best way of ending child marriage in the area’.
He went on to caution girls on premarital sex as it is the root cause of teenage pregnancy which in the end may have adverse effects like health complications and contacting HIV/AIDS.
He expressed worries that boys in the region and countrywide don’t want to marry waiting for casual sex which is not safe.
Ntenga Moses who doubles as the National Coordinator of Girls Not Brides Uganda and the Chief Executive Officer of Joy for Children Uganda mentioned that statistics show that about 650 million premarital marriages are recorded and about 28 million marry before 18 years – a very scary statistic that needs redress and that for Uganda, about 34% of children marry before 18.
He therefore stressed that there is need to address twin issues of Child marriage and teenage pregnancy. He wondered why this is still escalating with the laws in place
He sought for amplifying voices amongst young people, parents and line stakeholders to come together, strengthen coordination and partnership to end the vice.
Adolf Muhumuza the Chief Convenor of Western Region Girl Summit, 2022 held in Kyenjojo district told Umoja Standard News Agency that it was honor to host the event at the time when the area is grappling with teenage pregnancy, child marriage, HIV/AIDS prevalence and Sex Gender-Based Violence.
Adolf revealed that over 4000 cases of teenage pregnancy were recorded in the FY 2020/2021 for Kyenjojo district with many more still isolated which is worrisome.
He stated that this translates that, ‘in a period of next year, the burden will have doubled since these young girls will have given birth to innocent babies. He based here to seek for concerted efforts to block the problem from escalating.
“Controlling child marriage and teenage pregnancy is one effective way to address the socio-economic aspects because we shall have a generation of elevated welfare and economic development of this country”. He quoted from King’s speech.
Mwenge South legislator Hon. Katalihwa Donald Byabazaire told this Website that ‘I am aware of the state of affairs in the district and Tooro Sub-Region regarding teenage pregnancy and child marriage but I promise, as leaders we shall commit ourselves to fight and see this reduce’.
He highlighted that ministerial positions have been formulated and as policy makers, are following up. He added that with the Civil Society taking the mantle in this, is optimistic that the fight will be a success.
“Our fight should however be inclusive in nature because we understand that all the challenges of girl child face are from boys so if were advocate for behavior change among two sexes, success will be inevitable. Another focus should however be on HIV/AIDS campaign because we are focusing much on the latter, HIV prevalence has shot high”. He stated.
He cautioned parents on conniving with perpetrators in hiding these cases as this in the end makes ‘fighters’ energy futile.
On funding of these interventions from Government, Hon. Don said that Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development has come up with a clear policy statement and framework and commits to implement it.
Tukamushaba Marion a young girl and student from Bufunjo Seed Secondary School, Bufunjo Sub County in Kyenjojo district narrated to this website a touching story where her father tried forcing her into marriage because she hailed from ‘not well to do’family. ‘This was not on her mind and many times, confronted with the father on the matter’.
Because she had dreams, did not bend to father’s orders and in the process Asante Africa- an NGO operating in the region fished her up and started paying her school fees there by seeing light of her vision.
She encouraged fellow girls that regardless of any situation they may be in, it is very important for them to pray and stay focused, God will bring them a good Samaritan who will reach them to their dreams.
“We face a number of challenges in life as young girls, Boda Boda men and old men seduce us for little money and end up spoiling our future. But we can rise and say no to them and live a dreamful life”. She stated.
While presenting findings of the research carried out in Tooro Sub-Region in a space of a year, Mr. Atukunda Frank from Baylor Uganda stated that there are higher cases of child marriage and teenage pregnancy brought about by defilement, child marriage.
He said that defilement cases pose a risk to lives of victims.
“In the last 12 months found out that in 1164 persons tested for HIV, 166 were recent infections. He added that overall, Kyenjojo as a district is in the 24th position in HIV/AIDS prevalence in Uganda”. He reported.
This is always a curtain raise to the to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence-an annual campaign that begins on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs through International Human Rights Day on 10 December.
(And the National Girl Summit will be convened on 30th/November, 2022 by Girls Not Brides Uganda and Joy for Children Uganda).
This year, the UN marks the 16 Days under the theme “UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”.