The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has condemned girl child marriages rampant in Kasese district and urged district leaders to establish ordinances to regulate the practice.
Kadaga noted that the local community has not taken responsibility to regulate child marriage and advised Kasese residents to borrow a leaf from Kamuli district. She said, “in kamuli district, we have a bylaw; if we find you attending a wedding of children, the witnesses, the bride and groom, the parents and the chairman LC1 of that village are all arrested”.
The Speaker was speaking at a fundraising for a girl’s dormitory for Bwera Secondary Schools in Bukonzo West, Kasese district on Sunday, 29 July 2018.
She said that it was immoral for children as young as 10 years old to be married off when their bodies are not even fully developed.
“How can a child of 10 years who can’t even bathe herself be your wife? The mind of such kids is on kwepena (games); they are not thinking about making your bed as a wife” said Kadaga.
The State Minister for Health, Sarah Opendi said that the country is grappling with teenage pregnancies which are closely related to child marriages.
“Out of every 100 girls, 25 get pregnant before their 18th birthday, and the high maternal mortality we have is partially due to teenage pregnancies. These young girls contribute 24 per cent of the maternal mortality rate,” she said.
Opendi warned that there is danger if government sits back on child marriages saying, “if we continue like this, we will find that a few people are able to support the economy because these are children giving birth to fellow children”.
Godfrey Katusabe (FDC, Bukonzo West) attributed the incidences of teenage pregnancies and early child marriages to the long distances girls travel to school. He said some girls get raped on their way to school while others are taken for marriage.