By Candia Stephen
Arua- Arua Resident District Commissioner Peter Debele has warned religious and cultural leaders against promoting practices that encourage early marriages.
While speaking during community dialogue on child marriages organized by Uganda Media Development Foundation at hilltop hotel Arua on Friday, Debele said the increasing cases of early marriages in the district and the region is largely a result of bad cultural and religious practices.
“We have to be open here, some religions and cultures still promote child marriage in our communities and this must be condemned with the strongest terms possible,” Debele said.
Citing example of eight P7 girls from Adraa primary school in Upper Madi constituency who got married before sitting the PLE this year, the RDC urged parents, guardians and communities to be open on sexual matters to their children.
He also urged the media to support government programmes aimed at promoting girl child education adding that if the girls are well educated, cases of early marriages can be reduced.
May Andezuyo, senior woman teacher at Arua public secondary school condemns the practice of over producing children and failure by their parents to provide for them, a situation she says results in to early marriages.
Geoffrey Dramani of ANPCAN speaking during the dialogue. Photos by Candia Stephen.
Avubien Mika, the Community Liaison Officer Arua said in many homes, children are not well guided by parents and they end up getting confused under peer pressure.
He noted that police statistics in the district indicate that most cases of domestic violence and conflicts in communities are a result of early marriages.
He says police efforts to curb the practice is hindered by parents discouraging their daughters from reporting to police, unqualified health workers especially in refugee areas, who do not prepare right medical reports for police to follow and communities not cooperating with police.
Evelyn Abo, from Uganda Media Development Foundation-UMDF urged the media to play their role in changing bad attitude among communities that promote early marriage and called on the police to support the media in their effort to address the challenge of early marriages.
Meanwhile Geoffrey Dramani the focal person African Network for Prevention of Child abuse and Neglect-ANPCAN says cases of family break ups, violent behaviours and child neglect have gone up due to early marriages in West Nile.
He adds that many people, who have found themselves in early struggle for survival, are products of early marriages and called for promotion of education and parental training to enable the children stay at school.
The dialogue, which attracted over 30-participants from various sectors was held under the theme: why child marriages are a major cause of domestic violence and conflict among communities.