Lamwo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Civil Society Organizations in the Acholi sub-region have formed a joint coalition to combat teenage pregnancies, child marriages and other forms of child abuses.
The 15-member coalition of non-profit making organizations includes AVSI Foundation in Uganda and Gulu Women Economic Development & Globalization (GWED-G) among others.
The agencies have tailored interventions especially in education, human rights advocacy and livelihoods improvement, spearheaded by Save the Children in Uganda.
It is estimated that at least 30 girls under the age of 18 are defiled every day in the region.
Recent statistics by the Ministry of Education reveals that over 10,000 girls were impregnated during the lock down period in Acholi.
For instance, as of September 2020, Lamwo district recorded record mark 1,000 teenage girls who were impregnated; 930 in Pader, Agago 735, Nwoya 649 and Amuru 635 and more than 4,000 girls were impregnated Gulu during the COVID-19 lock down.
According to statistics from Gulu Central Police Station, Probation and Social Welfare Department up to 722 girls including six boys were defiled in Gulu spanning the period of lock down in the country. Of the cases, 177 were investigated by police and only seven were convicted.
Immaculate Nalubyayi, the Senior Officer Advocacy and Communications under Save the Children Officer says that the coalition is tasked with collecting data on reported cases for appropriate intervention mechanisms to help address the plights of children.
Godfrey Nsubuga, the Programmes Manager Hope and Peace for Humanity, who doubles as the coalition’s Chairperson notes that many children are subjected to various forms of abuses like child labour, early marriage and teenage pregnancies.
Brenda Aromorach, Gulu based Field Officer at the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), a women’s rights organization in Uganda observes that the cases of abuse on teenage girls in the region are alarming and require Police to step up their interventions.
Some of the determinants of teenage pregnancies in Uganda include weak implementation of the Penal Code Act which criminalizes sexual intercourse with girls below 18 years.
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), defines teenage pregnancy as “a teenage girl, usually within the ages of 13-19, becoming pregnant and refers to girls who have not reached legal adulthood, which varies across the world”.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), most of the teenage pregnancies are associated with complications such as preterm labour, intrauterine growth retardation and low birth weight, neonatal death, obstructed labour, genital fistula and eclampsia.
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