By Gladys Achen
An increase in girls who aregenitally mutilated in Kween district in stressing parents and local leaders during the COVID 19 pandemic.
KWEEN DISTRICT-UGANDA: Priscilla Chelangat, a female youth councilor in Kween district says before the COVID 19 pandemic, 21% were illegally genitally mutilated, but the COVID 19 pandemic situation in the last one year has escalated the situation to 60 % of girls genitally mutilated.
“in our culture when a girl is mutilated, they are regarded are mature and ready to get married including those below 17 years” Chelangat says.
This has resulted into increase in teenage pregnancies due to early sex and marriages, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, school dropouts and maternal deaths among young girl in Kween district.
But Dr. AyubWangubo, Kween district Health Officer says the district is grappling with young mothers in Kiriki sub county at 46%, Kaptum 33% and Benet and Ngenge at 27.9% respectively. Other affected sub counties are Sundet, Greek, River, Benet, Kwosir, Kitawoi and Twikat are the most affected sub counties of the 18 in Kween district.
The abortion rates are also alarming at 44.8% in all emergency reproductive health care admissions, where most of these are young girls. Teenage pregnancy stands at 17.9% from 9.8 % while contraceptive use, mostly short-term methods stands at 46.2% in Kween district.
“It is unfortunate that we are unable to carryout post abortion care and therefore we as a district need to improve our referral health system” Dr. Wangubo says.
Kween district has a total population of 115,200 people of which females form 51.4%. 55.10 % are young children below 18 years while 34 % are aged below 24 years.
Dr. Peter Ibembe, Director of Programs at Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) says Kween district should aim to tackle all forms of gender-based violence that affect young people other than female genital mutilation. These are embedded in culture, gender and forms of social and physical interaction among the people of Kween district.
Aloysius Oloka, Kween Chief Administrative Officer says in order to ease the sexuality issues concerning young people in the ages of 10 to 24 years, the district leadership has partnered with Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) to empower the young people to make the right decisions before engaging into early sex, marriages and dropping out of schools.
Dennis Ephraim Balwaniregha, KweenResident District Commissioner (RDC) says Kween district’s rate of female genital mutilation is highest in Uganda compared to other districts in the region.
“I move around areas of Kween district and see so many children carrying fellow children, this poses a great risk for young girls dropping out of school, dependency burden to parents in Kween district” Balwaniregha says.
Jackson Chekweko, RHU Executive Director says the partnership with Kween district will yield fruits to have a more manageable and productive population in Kween district.
“with funding from Netherland ministry of Foreign Affairs, through Rutgers, we have to move and work together in all corners of Kween district to stop Female Genital Mutilation, early sex, marriages, illegal abortions, but also learn how to handle issues of some people who are sexually deviant in our local communities of Kween district” Chekweko says.
Robert Ocaya, National Coordinator at RHU for the Right Here Right Now 2 (RHRN2) program says the partnership with Kween district local government and other partners created to allow young people in all their diversity to enjoy their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in gender-just societies.
The project seeks to unleash the power of youth, to increase public support for young people’s SRHR, to improve policies and laws, and to strengthen civil society.
Lobbying and advocacy is the Project’s main strategy, supported by mutual capacity strengthening at local and national levels for the next five years.
Ocaya says the RHRN2 project will be implemented in Kween, Kabalore, Mbale, Kasese, Kapchorwa and Kampala.