Culture and Society
Cases of girls being married off at a young age are high in Karugutu Sub County and the district has been blamed for not addressing the matter
Early marriages are increasing at an alarming rate in Karugutu Sub County, Ntoroko district and the district authorities are being accused for remaining silent on the matter.
Young girls aged 16-18 years have been forcefully married off with consent of the parents because the parents are poor.
Statistics released by the World Vision office in Karugutu, indicates that 60 girls were married off in 2010, while another 30 girls were married off and since January 2011.
In some villages, the girls who have refused to be married off are either chased out of the homes by their parents or denied education.
17-year-old Irene Karunga sells pineapples and roasted maize in Karugutu town. Karunga says that her parents forcefully married her off to a businessman in Rwebisengo Sub County. She says that she spent two months at the man’s home and later escaped back to her parents’ home.
When she demanded to go back to school, the parents refused because she had disobeyed their orders.
Karunga, who is now staying with her grandmother, says that she was able to go back to school with the help of her grandmother and other relatives who were aganist the idea of marrying her off.
Henry Isagara, the field officer World Vision Karugutu office blames the district leadership for turning a blind eye on the matter. He says that in 2010, the district authorities signed a memorandum of understanding with World Vision to start a campaign against early marriages, but the campaign flopped because the district was not been supportive.
Isagara also says that World Vision offered to facilitate the district officials to trace the girls who had been married off and return them to their parents, but there was response from the district.
The early marriages have also increased the rate of school drop outs among the girls.
At Karugutu Secondary School, the head teacher Geoffrey Mwesige says that five girls in senior two and three girls from senior three dropped out school were married off. He says that it is a blow to the go-back to school campaign which was the school initiated last year.
Mwesige also blames the district education department for doing nothing to stop the practice. He wants a by-law passed to punish parents who marry off their daughters.
//Cue in: “the girls…”
Cue out: “…a law in the district.”//
Roger Tumwine, the district probation officer Ntoroko says that the district is aware of the practice, but can’t do anything because efforts to curb the practice are being frustrated by the local leaders, who claim that it is a cultural.
Tumwine says that last year, he requested the district council to pass a bylaw, but it was rejected. He says that the district will continue sensitizing parents against marrying off their daughters at an early age.
# # #