By Ayomi Benedicto
The negative economic and social effects of Covid-19 have severely impacted Busoga girls more especially in Luuka district. They have been exposed to increased sexual exploitation and abuse and forced into child marriages.
Girls in Luuka district are lured into sexual activities so as to find ways of survival since parents too are financially handcuffed.
Inadequate supply of sanitary towels is one of the leading factors to the rapid increase in early marriages and teenage pregnancies in the area and this drove the youth under their umbrella ‘Focus on the African Child’ to start sensitizing the young girls about the dangers of early sex with an aim of reducing early marriages and teenage pregnancies in the area.
Since the imposition of lockdowns and school closures due to Covid-19, sexual exploitation in all districts of Uganda, with the highest incidents reported in the eastern region early marriages and pregnancies are on the rise.
Young mothers in Uganda risk poor maternal and child health, being isolated, attempting unsafe abortions, failure to continue with school, and poverty.
According to the police report 2020 indicates that Eastern Uganda (Busoga ) has the highest reported cases, with the Luuka district alone reporting more than 600 cases including increased cases of teenage pregnancy.
Parents and the youth in the area have attributed the challenge of teenage pregnancies early marriages to poverty in the area.
Leaders in the area have attributed this cause to the reluctance by parents to sensitize their daughters about the dangers of engaging in early sex and marriages.
“Focus on the African Child” team leader Amonding Agnes has appealed to parents to continue discussing with their children the dangers of early sex and marriages.
The LCV has cautioned parents to desist from the habit of marrying off their daughters at an early age saying anyone found guilty risks being arrested and prosecuted before courts of law.
In the first lockdown, 2020, over 100 girls below the age of 18 in the district got pregnant after being lured into sex by lusty men.