What you need to know:
- With the establishment of GBV stop centres by Non -Governmental Organisations like Action Aid in the district, more girls have been rescued and taken back to school.
- Amudat is among the poorest performing districts in the country with literacy levels of 0.6 percent out of 35 percent in the whole of the restive mineral-rich Karamoja sub-region.
At least 80 school going children between the ages of 12 and 18 are rescued every year by Amudat District local authorities from the risks of being married off to rich men by their parents.
The authorities said the surging number has been as a result of gender-based violence which is caused by poverty and high illiteracy levels, among others.
Mr Alfred Logwe, the Principal Assistant Secretary at Amudat District, said due to increased gender-based violence and poverty, girls have been forced to marry men older than them for wealth.
“Many girls have been forced into marriage and when they reach there and see that they cannot manage, they decide to escape and run to police or GBV stop centers,” Mr Logwe said in an interview with this publication.
According to him, most of the parents who force their children into marriages never went to school and this, he attributed to lack of awareness and inadequate schools in the district.
“Additionally, some parents’ attitude towards education is still low. Some parents do not see value in education. Whereas others do not have money to take their daughters to school, so when their daughters become idle at home, they force them to go and get married so that they could get riches," he added.
Mr Logwe said there are three secondary schools and 13 primary schools in the whole district. Out of the 11 sub-counties, only three have secondary schools of which some are still under construction. He added that the inadequacy of school has greatly contributed to the high rate of illiteracy in the district.
According to him, Amudat is among the poorest performing districts in the country with literacy levels of 0.6 percent out of 35 percent in the whole of the restive mineral-rich Karamoja sub-region.
The district community development officer, Mr Micheal Longok said there are inadequate government facilities such as police posts in most sub-counties which would provide security to young girls.
GBV Stop Centres
With the establishment of GBV stop centres by Non -Governmental Organisations like Action Aid in the district, more girls have been rescued and taken back to school.
Ms Suzan Ikakwol, a psychosocial support officer with Action Aid International Uganda in Amudat district said since its establishment, they have touched the lives of over 500 people.
“More than 500 cases were registered in 2022 alone. We receive between five and seven survivors per day (both GBV and Child marriage) who seek our help at the one-stop shelter,” Ms Ikakwol who oversees the GBV Stop Centre said.
Most survivors are equipped with vocational skills as they get rehabilitated and preaped to return to school.
Although there have been several interventions made to end child marriage and GBV in communities, Ms Okwakol argues that the existence of porous borders has led to the growth of the vice.
“For instance, Kenya is close by, thus most offenders who commit GBV tend to run to Kenya once they learn authorities are after them,” she added.
According to section 129 of the penal code (Amendment) Act 2007, any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of 18 years commits a felony known as defilement and is liable to a life imprisonment.