At least 226 children have been married off in Adjumani district in the past year, a report from the District Gender Office has revealed.
The report shows that 504 child-related sexual abuse cases were reported between the month of January and October last year. The report also shows that 167 teenage learners were impregnated in the same period. It further indicates that 5 abortions were conducted leading to 2 deaths resulting from complications.
Josephine Odipio, the Adjumani district Gender Focal Point Person told URN in an interview that following their investigations especially on cases of child marriages, they found out that parents went ahead and negotiated with the parents of the boys for marriage. According to Odipio, of the 226 child marriages recorded, only one suspect was arrested and released under unclear circumstances by the Police in Itirikwa Sub County.
Odipio attributes the high child marriage in the district to irresponsible parents who don’t see value in educating their children in favor of bride price. She says that there`s a need for the girls to be empowered so that they are assertive and take personal decisions to complete their education regardless of the environment they live in.
Ben Anyama, the LC V Chairperson Adjumani district attributes the high cases of sexual child abuse to gender-based violence. He says most of the children lose hope and focus on education because of the abusive language used by their parents when they are fighting.
According to Anyama, to save the situation, gender-based violence by law is in the offing. He says in the by-law, they want to jail male parents who beat up their women and fail to take care of their responsibility including educating their children for six months while women who beat up their husbands will be jailed for a month.
Vincent Anyama, a resident of Adjumani town council attributes the high number of child abuse cases and early marriages to high illiteracy levels among parents. He says most parents value their animals more to the education of their daughters, saying it’s the reason most of them prefer their daughters to be married off so that they can accumulate more wealth.