Child marriage to stop in Uganda

Posted: June 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

Uganda which is in the Eastern part of Africa has put forward a strategy to stop child marriage and teenage pregnancy in the nation.

The United Nations Children’s Fund issued a statement on Wednesday that the strategy developed by the ministry of gender, labor and social development with technical and financial support from UNICEF asserts approaches and interventions that will end child marriage and teenage pregnancy in Uganda.

“The strategy has been developed because for the last 30 years, there has been no change in the average age at first marriage which, in spite of multiple interventions, has remained at 17.9 years,” said Evelyn Anite, State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs”.

According to government statistics, Uganda is ranked as the 16th among the 25 countries with the highest rates of early marriages in 2013.

The statistics shows that 46% of girls marry before 18 years, and 12% marry before 15 years. Over 40% of the girls are remarried off before their 18th birthday just like some parts in the middle east.

“In terms of health, pregnancy and child birth related complications are the leading cause of death in young women aged 15-19,” said Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda.

“It is important to note that if child marriage is not properly addressed, the UN Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 calling for a three fourths reduction in maternal mortality and two-thirds reduction in child deaths by end of 2015 will not be met,” she added in a UN joint statement to mark the Day of the African Child Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative said although Uganda has ratified a
number of international legal instruments and enacted laws to protect children, more needs to be done to ensure the laws are implemented.

James Kaboggoza, the assistant commissioner children affairs in the ministry of gender argued that the problem of child marriage is mainly attributed to parents who tend to marry-off girls once they discover that they are pregnant or eyeing wealth inform of bride price. He said although the country has laws against child abuse and early marriages, when men defile girls, some parents opt for negotiations to marry off the girls instead of going to courts of law. With the coming into force of the five year national strategy to end the rampant child marriages and teenage pregnancy, such challenges are likely to be addressed.

The strategy will be addressing a number of child related issues including educating girls and this is to be done with traditional leaders who will be sensitizing the public. The campaign will also focus on how to rehabilitate children, especially those who have already been married back to their normal life through counseling. “The strategy is intended to provide guidance on the
design and implementation of programs that will contribute to eliminating this harmful practice throughout the country.

The UN in Uganda is fully committed to working with all stakeholders to accelerate progress towards ending child marriage and teenage pregnancy in Uganda,” said Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie. Muruli Mukasa, minister of gender, labor and social development and he also said government will need the support of development partners, civil society, religious and cultural leaders and parents in order to eliminate the evil practice.

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