A group of youth activists led by Miss World Africa, Quinn Abenakyo, have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, to expedite the passing of the Sexual Offences Bill to curb child marriage.
“We want a national law that criminalises child marriage because it is the top most challenge that girls in the eastern region are facing,” read the petition delivered at the launch of the ‘girls get equal’ campaign at Africana Hotel on Friday, June 14, 2019.
The campaign is spear headed by Plan Uganda and is geared at fostering rights and equal treatment of girlsKadaga said she was equally concerned about the growing cases of child marriages in Uganda and cited examples in her constituency, Kamuli District. “You can find an LC1 chairperson attending a wedding of children aged 15 in Kamuli District. We shall now arrest whoever we find at such a wedding,” said Kadaga.
She assured the activists that Parliament is progressing well on the Sexual Offences Bill, which she said will address sexual and gender-based violence suffered by girls and women. “We nearly passed it in the last session but new issues came up for Parliament to address,” the Speaker said.
Representing youth from the districts of Kamuli, Buyende, Tororo, Kamuli, Lira, Adjumani and Yumbe, the activists said they were bothered by the escalating cases of sexual slavery of Ugandan girls in the Middle East and appealed to government to investigate labour export companies.
The activists also tasked Kadaga to urge government to review the current secondary school policy in order to offer free education for child mothers. “This policy should promote formal exit and re-entry for child mothers after they have delivered,” read the petition.
Kadaga was also asked to urge government to ban the airing of a song by local artist Fik Fameica, which they say presents women as property, chapati and yoghurt and thus lowers their position in the society.