So far, a massive 4,000 girls in the Acholi sub-region have become pregnant in the past four months of the schools’ lockdown. This makes an estimated average of a thousand girls conceiving every month and 33 per day.
The statistics obtained from Human Rights Focus who gathered them in the 6 Districts indicate that 4062 young girls became pregnant since the lockdown started late March up to Mid-August 2020.
Lamwo District presents a higher number with 1,000 girls followed by Pader with 920, Agago 730, Nwoya 640, Amuru 620 while Gulu comparatively registered low cases with ‘only’ 150 girls being made pregnant.
Francis Odongyoo, the Executive Director of Human Rights Focus, says most of the cases are linked to poverty. Some girls sought to become pregnant fearing that Covid-19 will kill them without children and they needed one at least.
Geoffrey Okello, the Executive Director for Gulu NGO Forum, says the lockdown has increased the vulnerability of people exposing the girl child to a higher risk of sexual abuses and forced marriages.
Nicolas Ogwang, the Uganda Human Rights Commission Regional Officer for North, revealed that the Commission is seeking to partner with the cultural institutions in the region to address the phenomenon.
“We have seen the problem and it’s immense and that’s why we need to engage the traditional leaders who even sometimes officiate such marriages so that they prioritize girl child education instead,” Ogwang revealed.
Betty Aol Ocan, the Leader of Opposition and the Woman Member of Parliament in Gulu, shares the same sentiments against child marriage and has called on the parents to guide children and provide a home to protect them.
“Child marriage denies a girl the opportunity to complete school and realize her full potential and we shall all stand against it if we want to build a culture where men and women are treated equally,” Aol said.