Robert Atuhairwe is Professional Journalist and a correspondent of New Vision in Hoima

This is the most intriguing bit of this enormous jig-saw puzzle. Previously much of the blame was attached to sugar daddies and the unprofessional conduct of primary school teachers and sometimes headmasters. The press both print and electronic (radio and TV) previously made a big deal out of this through promptly and widely disseminated reportage.

Today, no such recriminations abound. The question arises therefore, who are the new actors escalating this social syndrome in an event where there is paucity and dearth of solutions and research into the rising child pregnancies?

Among any five pregnancies at least four or five are contracted in the home context-neighbour frolicking with another’s and increasingly during school holidays.

And for every case that usually comes in the open, there will be several of thousands which will never come into the open because of parental authority and the fear of ostracism. Others are settled out of police (court) by parents of the victims because of the biting poverty to make ends meet.

More answers are needed over the escalating cases of child prostitution. A small girl because of the biting poverty is “bonded” to a friend and sometimes openly claims she is the real aunt, in the case of girls coming a distant part of the country. This aunt normally has “customers” (among them businessmen and government civil servants) who want a “shot” with a young “chick”. She pockets good money and gets the affected girl circulating among a host of white-collar workers with money from sterile investments backed by crass corruption and sometimes businessmen with money from unintelligent dealings.

This is also another significant source of child pregnancies. All the girls out of school for being pregnant are normally found to be “spoilt” actually to have the physical markings of promiscuous sex activity.

Under-age sex and motherhood is a deadly bane on social life, public safety and social stability. Eventually it has resulted into drop-out rates. Many of the young victims end up later as real professional prostitutes. The girls are stigmatised and rejected. Some have submitted to induced abortions (You HAVE HEARD THE SHOCKING FIGURES). Abortions are very risky and have life-long effects-fistula and its negative impacts. Children are brought up in single family contexts by their teenage mothers, and sometimes teenage fathers. Eventually these grow up to be socially maladjusted characters. Inevitably they become the hard-core elements which make social life very dangerous. You should be testing it at the moment, increased kidnaps, theft of motor vehicle number plates, boda bodas and drug consumption, etc.

For starters, more educated women have higher health practices, marry later and have fewer children. This leads to better maternal and child health. The children of educated mothers are more likely to attend school and a virtuous cycle of intergenerational progress is born.


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