Rev Fr David Komaketch, a priest attached to Paidha Catholic Parish in Zombo District is among the many leaders that believe that community leaders should take responsibility in upholding the society values that are on a quick decline basing on the high numbers for the teenage pregnancies among other Gender Based Violence cases registered in the district.
“I recently attended a meeting at Paidha Town Council where we received a shocking revelation. Zombo had registered more than 1,500 teenage pregnancies in a very short period. This news is not good in our area. We should not allow criminals perpetuating incidents relating to Gender based violence including the sexual abuse for our children resulting into teenage pregnancies among other vices. Society should embrace the values that kept our morals upright. All the perpetuators of the Gender based violence cases should not be allowed to move around without bringing them to book,” Fr Komaketch told a stakeholder dialogue held at Paidha Town Council recently.
Zombo District leaders should adopt a holistic approach that will ensure that leadership at the various levels remain accountable. The initiative to have the first dialogue involving activists, religious, cultural among other stakeholders is the way to go, Fr Komaketch advised.
While the high rates for the Gender Based Violence cases registered by authorities in Zombo District is a big concern for stakeholders, the record 2186 teenage pregnancy cases registered in a period of Six months in Zombo District is a big concern.
The debate on how to approach the sky-rocketing GBV cases where the greatest percentage of the victims is the girl child and the women that have been exposed to acts of defilement, rape, and physical violence is just an ice bag in what authorities in Zombo District now rally support to counter the adverse effects already exhibited by the shocking figures for the teenage pregnancies recorded between the months of January and June 2020.
At the District dialogue to commemorate the Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, a campaign organized by the National Association of Women Organizations (NAWOU) for stakeholders in Zombo District, the debate on the deliberate multi-approaches targeting a wider section of the public through sensitization was tabled. The stakeholders now demand a holistic approach that seeks to enlist support from the religious, political and cultural leaders targeting safer methods of resolving and handling domestic misunderstandings, child neglect acts while the long arm of the law brings to book all perpetuators of acts related to the GBV cases.
Zombo District Health Officer, Dr Mark Bonny Bramali reveals that 70% of the recorded 2186 teenage pregnancy cases recorded are for girls between the age of 14 and 16 years, a trend that is worrying since that particular age is very vulnerable to pregnancy related complications. It is also surprising that the community including the parents of the young girls at times try to conceal the age in favor of arranged child marriages. Acts where parents negotiate with the perpetuators to have the young girls married off after getting pregnant is rampant and should be condemned. The community especially the parents must have the future of the young girls at heart, the GBV dialogue members suggested.
“The Subcounties of Jangokoro, Alengkoma and Paidha Town Council are the worst hit areas that registered high numbers for the teenage pregnancies. The data undertaken between the months of January and June 2020 was not limited to teenage pregnancies but extended to a wider spectrum including maternal deaths within the health sector,” Dr Bramali told the Daily Monitor in an interview.
In Paidha Town Council, statistics at the Community Development department reveals a total of 124 teenage pregnancies registered for girls under the age of 17 were recorded at Paidha Health Centre III between the month of March and July while the cases for girls between the age of 18 and 20 years registered at Paidha Health III is 340 for the same period, Mr Denis Sinai Kamukama a Community Development Officer at Paidha Town Council reveals.
Rape and defilement cases;
Statistics from the Zombo District Probation and Welfare office and that from the Police child and family protection unit at Zombo reveal surging numbers for a range of GBV cases with defilement, rape, child neglect among the most pronounced cases. Zombo has a record 428 cases for defilement and rape case between the months of April and August 2020. The GBV cases registered at Paidha Town Council are 44 cases with 28 of the cases tagged on domestic violence between the months of March and July 2020.
The case of a 15 year old girl defiled by a suspected serial defiler who is now on the run after the incident that occurred on the night of October 14th, 2020 at Ngaru village in Zeu Subcounty is among the many different GBV cases where the perpetuators are reportedly on the run.
Ms Mary Gorret Anyang Annita (not real name), a Primary Six pupil had been sent to the trading centre at Zeu to buy some home basics when she landed into the hands of the defiler. The defiler known to the family members is now on the run.
Surprisingly the case for the defiled girl had remained at the local police Station at Zeu village since October 17th when it was registered. It was not until December 17th when the stakeholders raised the concern through the District Network that the Police CID team responded by calling for the file.
While testifying before the meeting Mr Yassin Omirambe, the father of the victim claimed that after paying Shs35, 000 and shs15, 000 to facilitate the police to forward the case file to Paidha Central Police for further management, the police had failed to arrest the suspect yet it is known that he was hiding in Paidha Town after relocating from Zeu village where the incident happened.
Luckily at the meeting, Mr Julius Masendi the Zombo Deputy Police CID officer who was among the stakeholders quickly responded and immediately called for the file from Zeu police station where it had lagged for more than 2 months.
“It is unfortunate that we have this particular case that had not reached our desk yet the case is among the high caliber cases that call for speedy investigation. I pledge to the family and the stakeholders who are partners in the peace building process that the case is now at our desk for further management. I also appeal to the community to act responsibly and corporate with the police to ensure justice,” Masendi told the meeting.
Among the objectives District Network is to coordinate dialogues, engage duty bearers on pertinent issues, offer counseling and community mediation services.
“We leant about this particular case from the Chairperson the NAWOU Zombo District Network chairperson Ms Jellies Lengacwiny. This particular family was disturbed by the unfolding events regarding the fate of a case involving their daughter, a victim of rape that had almost collapsed because they did not see chances of ever getting justice. We invited the victim in company of the guardians to have an interface with the relevant stakeholders to forge a way forward. These are among the many cases that we hope are un attended too and a time bomb for our next generation,” Ms Josephine Namatovu the NAWOU Project Officer in charge for Peace and Security covering the areas of Wakiso, Mukono, Zombo and Gulu areas told the December 17th dialogue in Zombo District.
Ms Florence Eyotaru, a Mid Wife attached to Paidha Healh Centre III advised that quick response is a critical element in managing conditions associated with cases that involve rape and defilement. It is unfortunate that this girl was only referred to the health facility after 3 days from the date of the incident. This does not only kill the evidence but compromises the steps aimed at protecting the victim from potential infections.
“We have also witnessed cases where some parents and guardians visit the health facility with the underage girls just to confirm the pregnancy to aid the negations and thereafter arrange for marriage. As medical personnel, we are at times left helpless because of the surging numbers for teenage pregnancies in our area. We have many cases involving girls aged 14 years that are pregnant. Their respective bodies are not able to support child birth. This is very unfortunate. We need a collective response,” Ms Eyotaru told the GBV dialogue.