The ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has warned parents who marry off underage girls to desist from the vice or face prosecution.
Deliberating at the national summit aimed at curbing child marriages, Mondo Kyateka, a commissioner in the ministry said parents are encouraging early marriages, by finding and welcoming suitors for their daughters.
In Uganda, the teenage pregnancy rate is 24% with regional variations – according to figures from UNICEF. This percentage rises to at least 34% in the poorer households.
Causes vary – although most rotate around poverty.
Many parents deny their daughters education citing poverty – although this claim is contested by rights activists.
Although there are laws and regulations against early marriages, rampant corruption continues to hinder the fight against the vice.
Teenage pregnancy and early marriages are part of the problems Busoga sub region continues to grapple with, considering the high rate of young people who turn into mothers at an early age.
The Uganda Health Demographic Survey 2016 indicated that 25% of adolescents between 15-19 years become mothers – with the districts of Mayuge, Bugiri and Jinja registering the highest numbers.
Jova Kamateka the Mitoma district woman MP who doubles as chairperson of the Human Rights Committee in parliament said the fight will only be won with more funds committed to the struggle.
Kyateka said government will crack the whip on parents who encourage early marriages.
The national girl summit looked at the progress made by government in fulfilling their international, regional and national commitments and obligations toward eliminating child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation.
Every year CSOs, government departments and UN agencies join the rest of the world to commemorate the 16 days of activism against gender based violence and early marriages.