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Child Marriages in Rakai Blamed on Cultural Practices, Poverty

The 2018 report by World Vision Office in Rakai district about girl-child rights indicate that a total of 403 children were reported to have been defiled in Rakai district and majority had entered into marriage and got pregnant when they were still below age. According to the report, the school dropout rate in the area stands at 47 percent and the trend is even worse with the number of girls completing secondary school levels.
Reverend Godfrey Obone, the World Vision Centre Manager for Rakai district on Microphone at launch of joint Campaign against Child Marriages in Kooki County

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Cultural beliefs and poverty have been blamed for the increase of teenage marriages and parenting in Rakai district.

Rakai district which shares the same boundaries as the Kooki cultural institution is a host of diverse tribal communities that include; Baganda, Baziba, Banyarwanda, Bakiga, Barundi, Bafumbira among other native tribes. 

Despite its tribal diversity, the area is faced with a common problem of a high prevalence of sexual abuse against young girls who are being married off or even impregnated at an early age between 13 to 16 years.  Many girls in the area are also denied education and some offered to work as housemaids in homes outside Rakai. 

The 2018 report by World Vision Office in Rakai district about girl-child rights indicates that a 403 children were reported to have been defiled in Rakai district and majority had entered into marriage and got pregnant when they were still below age. 

The school dropout rate in the area stands at 47 percent and the trend is even worse with the number of girls completing secondary school levels.

This is rampant in the sub-counties of; Lwamaggwa, Kyalurangira, Kifamba, Kibanda, Ddwaniro, Kiziba, Byakabanda, Lwanda, Kacheera and Kagamba, where the local authorities are reluctant at ending the vice and sometimes becoming the perpetrators. 

Florence Namakula, the World Vision Coordinator of Lwamaggwa sub-county, explains that their studies have established that besides high levels of poverty which lure young girls into sexual practices for survival, communities in the area also still believe in marrying underage girls.

John Kasiiba, a retired teacher says that parents in the area are still stuck with primitive cultural norms that attach less value to educating of girl children.

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Reverend Godfrey Obone, the World Vision Centre Manager for Rakai district has described the problem as an inherent practice the community has embraced time immemorial. 

He explains that in their community interactions, they have learned that majority of the women in the area were also married off below eighteen years and have lived to accept the trend. 

Reverend Obone, however, says they have now joined hands with the Kkooki Cultural institution’s leadership to roll out a joint campaign towards stamping out the problem.  

He says they are going to tap into the influence of the Kamuswaga to help speak against cultural rigidities that still promote the habit.

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