By Parliament Press .
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has directed the arrest of any persons engaged in activities encouraging early child marriages and teenage pregnancy.
She also supported the ordinance of Kamuli District to arrest anyone taking part in a marriage ceremony of minors.
Kadaga said statistics are mind boggling of pregnant children aged 10 being recorded in antenatal clinics.
“Why should a child at that age be married and who is this marrying them?” she asked.
Kadaga said anyone who engages in sexual relations with a child should be named and shamed, and jailed.
“I want to encourage you, young people, to go to school so that you can be useful in shaping the future of your country,” she said while officiating at celebrations to mark the Day of the African Child in Nawanyago – Kamuli under the theme, “Leave no child out of development”.
Patrick Emukule, the Manager Plan International in Kamuli said the Day honours the importance of children considering that the future of the world lies in their hands.
“We need to consider things that are likely to fail children in achieving their full potential, which include child marriage and teenage pregnancy,” he said.
Emukule noted that issues like child marriage and teenage pregnancy are dooming the future of girls and there is need to fight the vice.
“7,000 girls attended antenatal care in Kamuli District in 2017, which is alarming. We need a multi stakeholder intervention that includes district leaders and even families,” he said.
Emukule asserted that girls should be given the chance to decide when to marry and whom to marry.
Marvin Atugonza, a pupil of Nawanyago Primary School, said the Day of the African Child calls for children’s involvement in the development of Uganda.
“The future of our nation is in your hands and therefore, we need to be involved in the decision making process for the development of the country,” he said.
Atugonza asked the government to create a suitable environment for children to thrive and become successful.
“To my fellow children, let us maximise the opportunities presented to us in order to grow up to develop our country,” he said.
Thomas Kategere, the LCV Kamuli District said, “what kind of parent are you who goes ahead to produce a child, feed it, educate it only for you to marry them off before they are of age”?
Kategere advised children to refrain from engaging in sexual relationships.
“Life is about choices and if we make the wrong ones they are bound to affect our lives in future,” he added, noting that, “if you as a child decide to engage in sexual relationships, you are exposing yourself to STDs and poverty because you cannot afford to take care of a child when you are still in school,” he said.
Hon. Moses Kibaalya (NRM, Bugabula South) requested every leader to talk about child abuse at every available opportunity.
“Parents, I appeal to you to always report any case of abuse against a child to Police and to your leaders so that the perpetrators can be arrested and brought to book for their wrong doings,” he said.