Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has warned parents in Kagadi against marrying off school-going children, saying government will not tolerate such impunity.
Kadaga, who was presiding at a fundraising function at Mugarike Parish Catholic Church in Kagadi, was frustrated by reports that the majority of girls in the area are dropping out of school for marriage.
“This is wrong. Many children don’t reach senior four because they go to get married. I ask you to take this matter seriously,” said Kadaga.
Earlier, MP Janepher Mbabazi (NRM, Kagadi) had accused parents of profiting from child marriage.
“We have a challenge of girl child education. The number of girls in schools keep reducing due to early marriages; people view children as a source of wealth in this region,” said Mbabazi.
Kadaga said the rationale behind introducing the Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) programmes is to have all school going children in school, but warned that government will apprehend the detractors.
Kadaga participated in a fundraising drive that saw the collection of over Shs20m in cash and donations. She contributed Shs10m for the construction of the Church.
According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)’s State of the World’s Children 2016 Report, at least one in every two girls in Uganda is married before the age of 18, the lawful age of consent in Uganda.
Cultural Practice, an organization monitoring women and girl child progress conducted a study in 2006, where more than half (53 per cent) of women aged between 20–49 were married before the age of 18.
The organization noted that the reasons for early marriage are rooted in traditional and social norms, as well as factors such as women’s disadvantaged status, poverty and biases against girls’ education.
The function was attended by among others, the Minister of State for Economic Monitoring in the Office of the President, Hon Kasirivu-Atwooli Baltazar and a host of local leaders.