According to the Ministry of Health, 25% of Ugandan teenagers become pregnant by the age of 19 and close to half are married-off before 18 years.
The Uganda Police Annual Crime Report 2020 indicates that 14,134 cases of defilement were reported (out of this 4,442 cases of defilement were reported between January and April 2020 alone; 310 were defiled by persons living with HIV and 120 by their parents) compared to 13,613 reported in 2019, revealing a 4% increase.
The National Survey on the situation and impact of COVID-19 on school going girls and young women in Uganda, by FAWE Uganda revealed a 22.5% increase in pregnancy among girls aged 10-24 seeking antenatal care in the first 3 months of the lock down.
In light of this, the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Uganda Chapter held a national dialogue with Members of Parliament to find practical solutions and end all forms of sexual and gender based violence mated on girls and young women, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda.
The dialogue focused on sharing empirical evidence of the study conducted by FAWE Uganda and partners on the situation of, and impact of Covid-19 pandemic on school going girls and young women in Uganda, facilitate utilisation of research findings in decision-making and policy development processes.
Susan Opok Tumusiime, the executive director, FAWE Uganda called upon parents and families to protect their children, provide basic needs including food, shelter and sanitary towels to shield them from wrong elements.
Betty Aol Ochan, the Former Leader of Opposition in Parliament expressed the urgent need by the government to prioritise vaccination of Ugandans across the country. She decried increasing cases of sexual violence across the country with over 17,000 cases of teenage pregnancy reported in Northern Uganda by another study.
Sarah Opendi, the former state minister for Health, thanked government for passing the school re-entry policy enabling child mothers and other vulnerable girls return to school.
She called for the urgent re-opening of schools to save children from the ongoing abuse.
“We locked schools and churches because we don’t want children to get Covid-19. But now children are home idling, loitering in villages, having sex and getting pregnant. We need to open schools, because in border districts parents are crossing borders to make their children study in neighbouring countries like Kenya,” she said.