Parents have held themselves responsible for the increased cases of teenage pregnancies in Luwero district. Claiming they have not done enough parenting and left their girls to lead very permissive and reckless lives.
This was during a community parliament organised by Public Health Ambassadors Uganda(PHAU) at Kamira Sub County Headquarters. A group of residents gathered to discuss issues affecting their communities. Among the most prominent were limited access to safe water, teenage pregnancies and gender based violence.
Most parents blamed the escalating problem of teenage pregnancies on financial challenges faced by families which cannot afford to provide their teenage daughters with all the necessities they require. This has forced the girls to end up seeking them elsewhere, especially from older men who in return ask for sexual favours and end up impregnating them.
Nalutaaya Mariam, the Secretary for Gender, Production and Community based services in Kamira sub county castigated parents for leaving their teenage daughters attending to their businesses unsupervised. “You leave this girl in your shop and she interfaces with men who tell her all sorts of things that you can never imagine” she said. “They will take advantage of her young naive mind and before you know it the girl is pregnant” Nalutaaya added on.
The community parliament was chaired by Mr. Henry Namakoola a Senior Health Educator at Luwero District Health Office. Namakoola also cautioned fathers to build a stronger bond with their daughters. “Get your daughters used to hearing words like ‘I love you’, hug them sometime so that they don’t get taken up and confused by other men who will do these things to them but with ill intentions of defiling them”. He said.
It should be noted Uganda has a very good legal framework to remedy sexual crimes committed against miners but there’s a challenge of some family members of the defiled girl conniving with the sexual offender in exchange for money. According to Ms. Bbira Jane the Officer in Charge of Child and Family Protection unit at Kamira police post, this illegal practice has frustrated the police’s efforts to apprehend the criminals as such cases rarely get reported to police in the first place. “I’m issuing a strong warning to all parents out there, should we get you involving yourself in such crimes we shall arrest you. Both parties from the girl’s and the boy’s side shall get arrested” she said.
This community parliament was conducted under the auspices of the Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV Response (PITCH) project being implement by PHAU with support from International HIV/AIDS Alliance (IHAA).
PITCH project is meant to increase demand for and access to SRHR services among adolescent girls and young women through use of various avenues like VHTs that are empowered as advocates to participate in local and national policy making to ensure that integrated SRHR services and HIV care, treatment and prevention services are available to them when need arises. The project is currently being implemented in Luwero district in collaboration with the district health team.