Child Marriage has remained a very big challenge in many communities in Uganda. This has affected the well-being of girls, denying them a chance to enjoy their childhood and reach their potential.
Raising Teenagers Uganda (RTU), a non-governmental organization with a purpose of empowering the girl child in Uganda is accelerating efforts to end child marriage in the South-western district of Isingiro.
On Friday, 26th May, 2020, RTU, which works to keep girls in schools launched a new project in Isingiro district aimed at accelerating the efforts to end child marriages in the refugee hosting districts.
Recognizing the need to strengthen collaboration with the district leadership and other stakeholders working to promote the well-being of children and ensuring that girls are protected from becoming child mothers before the age of eighteen, RTU seeks to implement and finance important strategies, policies and services for young women and girls according to Mrs. Hope Nankunda, the Executive Director RTU.
“We want to work towards shifting harmful gender norms, strengthening collective action to ensure that civil society organizations, Government and other partners work together to drive meaningful change in girls’ lives, among others” Mrs Nankunda said
She added “We shall also do budget advocacy especially to address issues of school dropouts and ensure girls retention.”
The project will also identify champions including religious and cultural leaders as part of the plan so that they can front advocacy agenda and continue to create awareness about the dangers associated with child marriage.
Mrs. Nankunda told this website that the partnership with the district is going to be guided by a Memorandum of Understanding and it will be carried out in four sub counties of Kabingo, Masha, Nyakitura, and Isingiro town council.
During the launch, which took place at the district headquarters, the Chief Administrative Officer, Ms Alice Asiimwe appreciated the great work that RTU is doing to protect children and for extending their service to Isingiro district.
The Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Herbert Muhangi called upon parents to be “very mindful” and stop marrying off their young girls or else the law will catch up with them. He also highlighted the dangers that come with early child births including fistula that has become a big challenge for young girls.
Isingiro district hosts Nakivale Refugee settlement and many cases of child marriage have been recorded putting lives of girls in dangers.
“Most of child marriage cases are not reported to police because communities have accepted it and this mindset needs to change.” Said Ms Justine Atusasiire, the Senior Probation Officer
She said that domestic violence has greatly led to break down of families, which directly affects the girls in those affected families, adding that “ending Child Marriage is everyone’s responsibility and it is important that all stakeholders play their part in ensuring that those who break the law by marrying off or marrying young girls are punished in accordance with the law.”
Hope Nankunda, the Executive Director RTU indicated that society has witnessed a surge in child abuse and defilement cases during the COVID-19 period, something she says must be tackled collectively with parents taking the lead.
“We have seen a rise in cases of child abuse and defilement during this COVID-19 pandemic lock down and many girls are already victims of teenage pregnancy meaning that they may not have a chance to go back to school when schools finally resume. Parents should be very vigilant and protect their girls from men that could sexually abuse the girls including relatives in homes” she said
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