Pader district acting Education Officer Francis Olwoch says that of the 800 cases of teenage pregnancy in the district, 168 were primary and secondary school-going girls, according to the statistics obtained from 36 government health facilities where the teenagers had reported for antenatal services.
The Diocese of Kitgum has rolled out initiatives to strengthen the fight against teenage pregnancies within communities of East Acholi.
This follows an upsurge in cases of teenage pregnancies recorded in the region in the past five months, after the institution of partial lockdown measures to combat the spread of coronavirus disease. For instance, in Pader and Kitgum districts alone, some 850 and 780 girls respectively have been reportedly impregnated since March, according to statistics provided by the Kitgum Diocese.
Rev. Wilson Kitara, the Bishop of Kitgum Diocese told Uganda Radio Network in an interview over the weekend that the trend is alarming, calling for the intervention of the Church to curtail it. He says that failure to stop this will have negative effects on the future of the young girls citing health complications, failure to complete school, social stigma, early marriage and impoverished lifestyles.
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Rev. Kitara says that the Church has now embarked on using its “engine” responsible for peer education dissemination citing the priests, mothers and fathers’ union and the department of health to engage communities on the dangers of teenage pregnancies, early child marriage and sexually transmitted diseases.
According to Rev Kitara, the vice scaled up to abnormal rates due to the closure of the churches. “The challenge we still face is the lock-down, we don’t have room to move freely and access the community.” Rev. Kitara says.
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Rev Beatrice Aber, the Assistant Vicar at Old Saint Cathedral and a Mother’s Union worker says there is a need to initiate a counselling session to restore hope for the girls who have since been victims of teenage pregnancy. She notes that there is a likely tendency that some of the victims may end up committing suicide due to social stigma and burden accompanied by carrying a pregnancy.
Pader district acting Education Officer Francis Olwoch during a meeting held last month revealed that of the 800 cases of teenage pregnancy in the district, 168 were primary and secondary school-going girls. He noted that the statistics were obtained from 36 government health facilities where the teenagers had reported for antenatal services.
Olwoch, however, says justice for the affected girls have been slow since most of the cases were not reported to the police.
Statistics gathered from six districts in Acholi sub-region and released last week by Human Rights Focus indicate that 4,062 young girls were impregnated during COVID-19 lock-down between late March to mid-August this year.