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Parents in Acholi Fear Lockdown Will Spur Teen Pregnancies

Stella Kijange, of Nwoya District, an advocate and women rights activist says that more teenage girls are still at risk of getting pregnant during the lock down due to their extreme vulnerability to the secondary, social and economic impact of the pandemic.
22 Jun 2021 16:51
Gulu Senior Secondary Students during UCE exams - Photo by Dominic Ochola

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Parents in Acholi have expressed fear over the likelihood of increased teenage pregnancies and child marriage in the region again following the second pandemic lockdown in the country.

On June 6, President Yoweri Museveni issued partial lockdown measures to close public transport, places of worship and education institutions for 42 days to control the spread of the deadly second wave of COVID-19.

On Friday, the President reviewed his earlier directives and issued other measures declaring total lockdown for 42 days. Now parents in Acholi argue that the lockdown period could lead to an increase in teenage pregnancies among learners.

Geoffrey Oguti, another parent argues that many parents have abdicated their cardinal responsibilities and distanced themselves from their children resulting in too much freedom that the learners exploit to their advantage.

Robert Larubi, a teacher and parent in the West Division of Gulu City says that the problem of child marriage and teen pregnancy cases will continue to bother the country because of the inadequate sex education the learners in schools.

Larubi also noted that even parents in modern-day society are shying away from discussing sex education with their children because they consider it a taboo under the cultural context leaving boys and girls.

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Stella Kijange, of Nwoya District, an advocate and women rights activist says that more teenage girls are still at risk of getting pregnant during the lockdown due to their extreme vulnerability to the secondary, social and economic impact of the pandemic.

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Kijange further points out that while the police backed by other security agencies deploy to enforce the curfew and SOPs, the Family and Child Protection Unit, Family and Child Courts have been rendered dysfunctional thus delaying access to justice. 

During the first pandemic lockdown last year, the Acholi sub-region recorded over 17,652 teen pregnancies including child marriages. A significant number of the victims did not resume studies after the reopening of schools.

Local authorities say many households in the Acholi sub-region are being pushed to extreme poverty as parents are unable to feed their families and children are surviving on one meal a day, increase the chances of teenage girls being sexually exploited for money and other material gains.

Police annual crime report released in April indicates up to 14,134 cases of defilement were reported. Of those 5,058 were still under inquiry 3,331 were yet undetected 5,745 were taken to court while 8,494 were investigated and referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions – DPP.

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