Dorcas Asiimwe, 25, grew up with staunch born again parents, as such, getting pregnant before a church wedding was not an option. And when she met a man who prophesied Christ, she knew it was a matter of time as the pieces would fall into place.
Unfortunately, the script was altered when she conceived after her traditional marriage ceremony.
Asiimwe’s parents were not about to heed to such embarrassment before their fellow church members, so they hurriedly arranged a church wedding.
Asiimwe was lucky to have her marriage sanctified, which is not the case for most women who conceive before wedlock.
In traditional African society, this was unheard of and culprits would get harsh punishments. But that was then, as now that is steadily becoming the expected norm.
Monica Nabatanzi, 30, a mother of three cohabiting with her Muslim boyfriend says being of a different religion has stalled her plans of getting legally married.
“When I found out that I was pregnant with my first child, I was scared of what my family would think because they have never met my children’s father. Thankfully, my family was able to adjust to this new reality. However, it haunts me that I have never formally introduced my ‘husband’ to my parents,” says Nabatanzi.
Men too involved
Most times society holds women accountable, leaving men out of the equation. Richard Kimboowa a father of one from a staunch Christian family has impregnated his girlfriend before a formal marriage. Kimboowa says he stood by his then girlfriend. He took it a notch higher and formally visited her parents. He is happy that his in-laws were receptive.
Benson Ayesiga on the other hand wonders to date why he kept procrastinating. Two years into his relationship with Brenda Kembabazi she got pregnant. He thought they would make things formal after she had given birth.
But as fate would have it, seven months into the pregnancy she got a miscarriage. Kembabazi’s parents’ were the least amused, demanding for a formal wedding.
“After the mourning period, I was invited to their home and given an ultimatum to either traditionally wed their daughter with an increase in bride price for having got her pregnant before their consent or lose Brenda for good. I had to obey of course,” Ayesiga shares.
Evelyn Kharono Lufafa a counselling psychologist at Ssubbi medical centre, Namugongo says this is a delicate situation in itself for both the parents to be and their families, especially since most of these pregnancies are unplanned for leaving everyone involved unprepared.
Culturally it is demanded by parents for various reasons like public opinion, religiously it is emphasised that such a couple should get married.
In most cases when people marry forcefully because of a baby the chances of divorcing are high instead they should concentrate on the baby and in case they feel they are ready for marriage then they can go ahead and arrange their marriage.
Findings. According to a 2013 report by a US based institute Guttmacher institute, unintended pregnancies are common in Uganda leading to high levels of unplanned births, unsafe abortions, maternal injury and death. The 2011 Uganda Demographic and health survey shows that four in 10 births are unplanned.