OMORO. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, has attributed the current high rate of teenage pregnancies in Acholi sub-region to older men preying on teens.
Mr Oulanyah, who is also Member of Parliament for Omoro County in Omoro District, said older men are taking advantage of underage girls and abusing them sexually and in some cases impregnating them.
He made the remarks while speaking at the launch of the national mass vaccination for meningitis A at Omoro District headquarters on Tuesday.
Mr Oulanyah described old men engaging in sexual relationship with young girls as “abominable” in the Acholi tradition.
The legislator noted that the trend has led to young girls dropping out of school besides health complications related to pregnancies among teens.
Mr Oulanyah urged local government leaders in the sub-region to enact a by-law that outlaws marrying teenage girls by older men so as to protect the future of the girl-child.
The Minister of Health, Dr Ruth Aceng, said teenage pregnancy is a national problem, something she described as worrying.
Dr Aceng told journalists in an interview that teenage pregnancies are the largest contributor to maternal mortality in the country due to pregnancy-related complications.
She explained that teenage pregnancy comes with complications such as the destruction of birth canal system, eclampsia, pre- eclampsia, fistula, hypertension and death, among others.
Uganda has for some time now had the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa – at 25 per cent – despite the existence of a law criminalising defilement.
The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (2011), indicate that one in every four teenage girls between 15 and 19 was found pregnant.
The population secretariat indicates that of the 1.2 million pregnancies recorded in Uganda annually, 25 per cent of these are teenage pregnancies.
The UNFPA 2013 report title, “Adolescent pregnancy: A review of the evidence,” indicate that teenage pregnancies account for 75 per cent of all the pregnancies in Uganda.