At least 1,064 teenage girls were reported to have been impregnated
in Masaka district during the COVID-19 induced schools holiday.
The victims, according to records at the district Probation
Office are adolescent girls aged between 12 and 19.
Masaka District Senior Probations Officer Maria Nagawa says that their report traces figures captured between the months of March and November
2020, the period of the first phase of the lockdown.
Nagawa explains that the figures are traced from official records of expectant mothers who sought antenatal healthcare services at the various health facilities in Masaka district and the city inclusive.
She is however anxious that in reality, the number may even be
more than doubled, owing to the prolonged lockdown and the presence of several
other cases that might have remained unreported in communities.
//Cue in; “abaana baffe abasinga….
Besides the pregnancies, the report also indicates that a
total of 688 other forms of human rights abuses against children were reported
in the same period. These included cases of child labour, neglect, and torture, and
domestic violence that directly caused harm to children among other offences.
According to Nagawa, although the children returned home as a
safeguard against COVID-19, their findings established that a number of them
are involved in jobs that even expose them to great risk of contracting the disease,
citing dozens of minors who are casually vending mask faces on entrances of health
“kati era mu biseera…
Cue out: …..nga
Nagawa, however, says that as part of the remedy, they have
embarked on a vigorous campaign to provide psychosocial support
targeting the victims and their parents, to enable them to recover from the social
traumas and restoring their hope.
She explains that they are also looking at possibilities of
sourcing for generous persons who can take up responsibilities of looking
after the newborn babies, to allow the teenage mothers complete education.
//Cue in; “Embeera...
John Baptist Mulindwa, the Masaka district Assistant Education
Officer says that they also tasked the teachers to be on the lookout in their communities and provide psychosocial support to
learners that have fallen victims to abuse.
Meanwhile, Reverend Father Francis Xavier Lubega, the Masaka Diocesan
Schools Inspector says that the Church is using its available communication
channels to encourage and guide on proper parenting, which he says has been
established as the mission link.
He challenges the parents to keep their children engaged in home-based works as a way of killing
the redundancy that can expose them to risky social behaviour.