Kasese’s stolen angels

Sarah Biira is a 19-year-old secondary school student. Clad in a blue skirt and white blouse, she heads to Maliba Secondary School in Kasese District. However beyond the self-assured smile on Biira’s face, is a story that not many girls in Kasese are able to overcome.

Saturday November 12 2011

An 18-year-old mother and her baby in Kasese

An 18-year-old mother and her baby in Kasese District recently. Photo by Rosebell Kagumire  


The children included those who were married, those that had divorced and those who had fled their marriages and gone back to school.

The age of most of the men/boys whom the girls were married off to, ranged from 15 to 80 years.

In another case of teenage motherhood, Jovia, became pregnant in Primary Six and when she was married by the man, she discovered that he was married to two other young girls.

Parents of the girls later reported the case to the police and the man was imprisoned for three months.

His parents had to sell off a half -acre piece of land they had given him to get him out of prison.
However, after his release, the man fled to Kampala and abandoned the three teenage mothers, who are now living with their in-laws.

“This is sexual abuse and it is a setback for economic growth. This kind of a population where a child of 12 is a mother, can no longer be accepted. We must face the culture and ensure women’s rights are respected,” says former Kasese Woman MP Loyce Bwambale.

Police, LCs faulted

Juliet Were, Isis-WICCE lead researcher, says defilement in Kasese has been normalised with the help of the police.

“The police share the fines from offenders with parents and in one case we found the LC1 of the area had married a 14-year-old girl and yet these are institutions that should be protecting rights of girls.”

Ms Were says early marriages coupled with marginalisation of the area, have led to high levels of poverty.

“The Girl child is being used as a form of currency in these areas where four decades of war have left many impoverished,” she adds.

Ms Were says several girls in these marriages reported high rate of violence with and forcible sexual intercourse leading.

“This has a big impact on how Kasese can recover the from effects war.”

Kasese has faced various conflicts with the most recent being the Allied Democratic Forces rebellion from 1986 to 2003.

Despite the loss of lives, property and livelihood, Kasese has seen no proper recovery programmes, either from government or development agencies.

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