The Tororo district bio-statistician, Ali Mugerwa has submitted information contained in data indicating a sudden rise in teenage pregnancy in a period of three months hence threatening to cut short- the pursuit for education amongst school-going girls.
The disclosure was made during a district stakeholder’s dialogue held June 4 by National Association of Women Organisation of Uganda.
According to the numbers, 1,833 girls aged between 10-19 years were reported pregnant within a period of 90 days.
“The highlighted cases of teenage pregnancy are much less than the actual number because these are just those who managed to go for antenatal services yet a big number fear to go for antenatal services thinking that they will be laughed at,” Mugerwa stated.
He noted that the data included cases of sexual assaults by close family members was got from the district health management information system sourced from public health facilities.
He said “All the people who impregnated these innocent children need to be arraigned before court but it’s becoming a challenge as some of the parents connive with the suspects”
According to the Ministry of Health, 25 percent of Ugandan teenagers become pregnant by the age of 19. Close to half are married before their 18th birthday and continue having babies into their mid-40s. He chastised mostly parents for the prevailing crisis adding that poor parenting is responsible for the hike in the numbers. He also took swipe at the ineffective justice system in the country.
Program’s officer at National Association of Women Organization of Uganda, Ms Pauline Nabwire blames the surge on poor parenting coupled with greed for dowry, poverty, peer pressure and values reinforced by tradition.
“Most of the communities here are poor with majority of them not in position to have a meal in a day and as a result parents end up forcing their daughters to marry so that they are given bride price” she says.
Cases from the worst hit sub counties include Melinda 169, Eastern division of Tororo Municipality 148, Nagongera 138, Kirewa 136, Mukuju 129 and Kwapa 105.
Tororo District in May approved and enacted the children’s protection ordinance 2021. The ordinance intends to ensure justice is sought by victims against promoters of teenage pregnancy, SGBV, and child marriages through implementing partners, stakeholders, and community leaders.