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CHILD CARE: Speaker Among threatens to name and shame MPs

Deputy Speaker Among

Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Among has threatened to name and shame MPs who refuse to accept responsibility for their children.

Among was on Wednesday December 1, 2021 presiding over the house during a heated debate on a statement presented by the Vice President  Maj. (Rtd) Dr Jessica Alupo Rose Epel on the National Campaign against defilement, early marriages, and failed parenthood.

Among said that she will not protect any member of parliament who fails to take care of a child he sires with any woman.

“I am tired of counselling women who come here complaining about MPs who have failed to take care of children they sire, and if MPs don’t want to believe this, I will start naming the culprits ,” Among told the House, attracting wild cheers.

“Many of you have young daughters. Just imagine she is your daughter. How would you feel?” she asked.

For her part, the Chairperson of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) also Tororo district woman Member of Parliament Sarah Achieng Opendi said she had also been informed about a young mother who had come to parliament with her 6 months year old baby alleging that the father is one of the 529 Mps in the 11th Parliament but has unfortunately denied responsibility.

“If you know that you are responsible for that kid whose mother came to parliament today, go and do a DNA test and free yourself before we make your name public. As we debate this matter, colleagues, can we be role models first and foremost?”

While debating on the matter, Bukoto East MP Kanyike Ronald Evans faulted the government over the failure to facilitate the district probation and social welfare officers who are charged with the responsibility of coordinating the implementation of policies and programs aimed at preventing the occurrence of vulnerable children in the community.

“I consulted the Masaka District leadership about the budgetary allocation given to the Probation officer and was informed that only shs 550,000/= is allocated for each financial year quarter to do activities regarding family social welfare, juvenile crime and child abuse. This is worsened by lack of transport since they are not provided with cars and motorcycles to traverse the entire district,” said Kanyike.

The statement read by the vice president revealed that since March 2020, studies show increased cases of domestic violence, defilement and teenage pregnancy in the Country calling for concerted efforts to end the vices.

According to a study by the United Nations Population Fund, a total of 354,736 teenage pregnancies were registered in 2020 while 290,219 teenage pregnancies were recorded from January to September 2021, translating into an average of 32,000 teenage pregnancies per month.

Alupo hastened to add that the one year National Campaign against defilement, early marriages, and failed parenthood that she is going to lead emanated from a November 22 Cabinet meeting at State House Entebbe where ministers discussed and approved a paper presented by First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataha Museveni on a national campaign against the vices.

Janet Museveni’s paper was informed by increased cases of domestic violence, defilement and teenage pregnancy in the country since March 2020 when the first Covid19 lockdown was instituted.

“You will recall that, in December, 2019, the World was affected by the COVID -19 Pandemic and accordingly, His Excellency, the President in March, 2020 announced a total lockdown which included the closure of all the Education Institutions,” Alupo said.

“The prolonged closure of Education Institutions has exposed institutional failures (such as; weak enforcement of laws, negative social practices), failed parenthood and vulnerability of children, especially girls. Consequently, we have witnessed unprecedented levels of; defilement, domestic violence, and sexual abuse which have resulted into increased teenage pregnancies and early marriages that have been widely reported in the print and Electronic Media,” reads an excerpt from the statement.

The Vice President will lead the Executive arm of Government during the National Campaign while Members of Parliament will lead this National Campaign in their constituencies.

In the campaign, government will undertake a structured social dialogue with key stakeholders to create awareness about these vices and agree on sustainable solutions; and direct the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and all Local Governments (LGs) to take the necessary action to address the above vices in line with the Law.

According to a study by the United Nations Population Fund, a total of 354,736 teenage pregnancies were registered in 2020 while 290,219 teenage pregnancies were recorded from January to September 2021, translating into an average of 32,000 teenage pregnancies per month.

This National Campaign will be launched on Friday 03 December 2021 at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds.

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