What you need to know:
- This, according to authorities, has contributed to the increasing cases of defilement and teenage pregnancies in the district.
Village leaders in Butaleja District have been accused of conniving with parents to kill defilement cases in exchange for money and bride price.
According to district officials, parents of victims prefer to settle defilement cases out of courts of law with the help of local leaders and in some cases, with the involvement of police officers.
It is reported that village local council leaders mediate between the parents of the victim and the defiler before the latter is set-free.
This, according to authorities, has contributed to the increasing cases of defilement and teenage pregnancies in the district.
Last month, one Juma Were, a resident of Bugamwenge Cell, Busolwe Town Council, wrote to the Resident State Attorney, seeking to withdraw a defilement case.
“I am the complainant in the case of defilement whereby my daughter was defiled (name withheld). But the relatives have approached me for forgiveness and because of the good relationship, I have decided to forgive him,” the letter reads in part.
This prompted the district officials to intervene and arrest both parents of the victim and the suspected defiler.
Ms Betty Nesihwe, the district senior probation officer, said such cases are rampant in the district.
Ms Nesihwe warned of stern action against parents who frustrate prosecution of defilement suspects by settling cases out of court.
“What is important is not the money you get, but the future of your daughter who has been defiled,” she said.
Ms Nesihwe said rampant child marriages in the district are mainly driven by poverty and ignorance among most families.
The district chairperson, Mr Michael Higenyi, said some parents have turned their daughters into business.
He said last month, the district leadership arrested another parent of a defiler and victim for negotiating to kill the case. “They were taken to court and the suspect was remanded to prison,” Mr Higenyi said.
Course of action
He said the district is introducing a by-law intended to make education compulsory to all school- going age children so as to try and curb the high rate of teenage pregnancies.
The proposed by-law also intends to punish all parents who fail to enroll and maintain their children in school and those who marry off their teen daughters.
According to Mr Higenyi, Nawanjofu and Mazimasa sub-counties have the highest cases of defilement and gender based violence in the district.
Ms Judith Hasahya, a parent, said introducing such a by-law was long overdue, adding that once adopted, it will awaken parents.
The resident district commissioner, Mr Apollo Bwebale, said they have embarked on sensitising parents on dangers of killing defilement cases.
The chief administrative officer, Ms Loyce Joy Nambozo, said the district teenage pregnancies have always been high “with or without Covid-19.”
She said in 2018, the district registered 3,923 teenage pregnancies while in 2019 they recorded 3,220. In 2020, she said teenage pregnancies rose to 3,113 while in 2021, they recorded 2,618.
About 350,000 teenage pregnancies occur annually nationwide and 30,000 girls aged between 13 and 19 get pregnant every month, implying that 10,000 girls are getting pregnant every day, according to National Population Council.