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MPs call for more attention to Girls child issues as the number of teenage pregnancies continues to surge


MPs call for more attention to Girls child issues as the number of teenage pregnancies continues to surge

The 11th Parliament has passed a motion asking the government to urgently address the different challenges faced by the girl child, especially teenage pregnancies.

During the plenary on Wednesday, the legislators cited trafficking, teenage pregnancies, and early marriages as some of the issues that need immediate attention.

The discussion came after Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi raised a motion, noting that the country was struggling to contain the increased teenage pregnancies especially during the COVID-19 lockdown and closure of schools.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the pre-existing challenges facing the girl child; exacerbating the exposure of girls to trafficking both internally and international, teenage pregnancies, child marriages, poor menstrual hygiene on top of other forms of gender-based violence,” Opendi told the house.

The MP, who is also State Minister of Mineral Development highlighted a report of the African Peer Review Mechanism which attributed 10 percent of maternal mortality to teenage pregnancies, and a United Nations Children Fund -UNICEF report on teenage pregnancy in Uganda that revealed that 1in 4 of the 19-year-old girls have had a baby putting their lives at risk and forcing them to drop out of school.

She further told parliament that the Forum for African Women Educationists (FAWE) post-COVID-19 lockdown report on school-going girls, shows that there was a 366.5 percent increase in teenage pregnancies amongst girls aged 10 to 14 and 22 percent of girls forced into transactional sex due to poverty. She asked the government to provide the necessary resources and provide programs to skill the girl child whose education has been affected by early marriages or teenage pregnancies.

Opendi’s motion was seconded by Mbarara Woman MP Rita Atukwasa who noted that due to high levels of early marriages and young pregnancies many of the young girls have acquired HIV/ AIDS. 

Meanwhile, Rakai Woman MP Juliet Kinyamatama blamed Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) for contributing to moral decay among children by failing to regulate the programs aired on different Television stations.

Thomas Tayebwa the Government Chief Whip broke down as he narrated to parliament a story of a young girl who was defiled by her uncle and observed a need to protect girls and children in general.

Deputy Speaker Anita Among blamed parents for moving away from their parenting roles.

“We are not talking to these children. We need to talk to both the boys and girls. We need to revive sex education. Can’t we limit these pornographic movies on TV? Can Uganda Communications Commission do something to limit these?” Among wondered.

Wakiso Woman MP Ethel Naluyima, Hillary Kiyaga, the MP for Mawokota South, and Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Ssegona, among others also noted that while it is good to advocate for the girl child, it is equally important to keep the boy child in mind. They also urged parliament to push the government to make the internet cheaper and extend electricity in all parts of the country for the children to benefit from the digital era.

Mathias Mpuuga the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament said that the debate on the plight of the girl child should manifest into related legislation.


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