By Sam Opio
Kamuli Chief Magistrate, Ms. Aisha Nabukeera, has raised concern over the rising cases of defilement, incest, teenage pregnancies, child marriages, and family land inheritance.
Nabukeera referenced a story published in Daily Monitor on October 10, 2023, in which the government was mooting plans to allow girls from the age of 15 to get contraceptives.
“At 15 (years)? It is another way of saying girls at 15 years should be allowed to be defiled and if we allow a girl at 15 years to start using contraceptives, by 30 years I am sure this girl cannot produce, that means in 30 years to come, we shall not reproduce,” Nabukeera said.
“It will also mean that 30 years from now, men shall be going for girls of 12 years or 14 years so as to reproduce and it is a sad one and as leaders, we need to take it up,” she said while marking the International Day of the Girl Child at Kamuli Magistrate’s Court.
The day was organised by Plan International under the theme: “Invest in girls’ rights: our leadership, our well-being.”
During the celebrations, the Girl Child called for the reconstruction of the institution of family, marriage and parenting and advocated for gender-inclusive, transformative programmes, among others.
The call was made by Safiat Kantono, 15, a lead girls’ advocate and champion at Kabukye Secondary School, and Caroline Naminsi, 13, an activist for Plan Girls’ Education Movement from Naminage Mixed Primary School in Kamuli District.
They also led the government officials and leaders to renew and recommitment themselves to supporting girls attain equality by signing the commitment board to fight for equality and give girls their right to shape decisions on what affects them.
After taking over as the Chief Magistrate of Kamuli Magisterial area, Kantono said: “The Girl Child suffers from delayed, miscarriage and denial of justice, failure to provide, domestic and Gender-Based Violence and negotiations.”
She added: “They find it a headache to sort out and manage their periods, are often defiled, and forced into child marriages. All these vices inhibit our rights and block our participatory rights and potentials.”
Ms Rose Birungi, the Kamuli Resident District Commissioner (RDC), warned that defilement, teenage pregnancies, and child marriages are a costly burden to the government, which greatly sabotages its universal education programmes and must be squarely dealt with.
“It is disheartening that the vice chairpersons at the custody of children as secretaries for children are the same people who preside over child marriage ceremonies, condone and protect defilers. We need concerted efforts and take shared responsibility for the protection of our girls,” she said.
The Kamuli District Plan International Programme manager, Ms Zaituna Asio, explained that on December 11, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl.
The day recognizes their rights and unique challenges they face, provides an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential
“We are using this day to fight for the equality of girls, help them stand strong and counter challenges and marginalisation so as to help them learn, lead, decide and thrive by removing barriers that limit their participation to achieve their full potentials,” Ms Asio said.
She added that Plan International is playing a key role in supporting girls through empowerment, strengthening child protection systems, ensuring quality and inclusive education for children, community-based water, sanitation and hygiene for proper menstrual hygiene management among others.