NTUNGAMO DISTRICT WORST HIT BY CHILD MARRIAGES
By Elly Katahinga
Ntungamo district has been ranked as the one of the districts in Western Uganda with the highest level of child marriage and teenage pregnancy.
According to the Ntungamo district probation and child welfare officer Benon Mugume, a total of 233 cases of child marriages were reported in 2014, while 228 were reported in 2015 however 249 have already been reported at sub counties and district since this year.
Presenting a paper at the launch of national strategy to end child marriages and teenage pregnancies 2014/2015 and 2019/2020 in Ntungamo district held yesterday Friday 07.10.2016 in the district council hall, Mugume said the rate was worrying and needed concerted efforts to end the vice caused by mainly poverty, lack of parental care and anxiety.
Mugume also said a total of 115 cases of defilement have already been reported to Ntungamo police station with a difference of four cases in the whole year 2015 that had 119 and 89 cases in 2014 which is a reason to worry.
He revealed that poverty has fueled the prevalence rate of child marriage and teenage pregnancy in communities since girls are conserved as economic assets from which families can gain wealth.
However,Mugume tasked all duty bearers to strengthen the existing child protection laws and promotion of awareness on child marriage and teenage pregnancies and referral of victims of child marriage among others.
The strategy which is funded by Unicef revealed that over 15% of ever married women aged 20-49 were married by the age of 15 and 49% were married by age of 18, with a decline from 56% in 1996 for women aged 20-49 married bellow the age of 18 and 19.6% for women married bellow the age of 15.
Speaking at the launch, the Ntungamo district chairman Denis Singahache said there was need for a concerted effort to fight child marriages and defilement otherwise a generation will be lost.
Singahache argued for more interventions in protection and promotion of girl child rights and education.