White Ribbon Alliance

Teenage pregnancy still sharp thorn in government’s side

The Observer

August 10, 2016
This article was originally published in The Observer and was written by Zurah Nakabugo

Evas Nayebare, 17, dropped out of school in S.2 when she became pregnant with her first child at 15.

Nayebare survived narrowly because her body was not ready for childbirth and suffered a host of complications.

“If my father had listened to me and we shared the knowledge on dangers of teenage pregnancy and HIV/Aids. I wouldn’t have dropped out of school. Men disturbed me a lot since I was tall and they always thought I was an adult,” she said. “Since my mother died when I was young, I had no immediate person to advise me on how to [deal with men].”

Nayebare says she was constantly sent home due to lack of school fees.

“It’s one of the reasons why I engaged with men at a tender age. My father bought me neither clothes nor uniforms. I always begged from relatives who also got fed up.”

Nayebare said when she got pregnant she was rejected and laughed at, and lost self-esteem and hope since the man responsible for the pregnancy ran away. Nayebare was later saved by her volleyball coach who was interested in her talent and returned her to school. She is now studying on sports bursary at St Bridget Girls’ school, Isingiro. She wants to become a human rights activist.

“I advise girls to abstain from sex as the only way to avoid teenage pregnancy and other sexually transmitted infections. If I were not a talented volleyball player, I would still be at home suffering,” she said.

The director general of the National Population Council (NPC) Dr Jotham Musinguzi, said they celebrate this year’s World Population Day focusing on investing in teenage girls under the theme “Harness Uganda’s Demographic Dividend”.

“I call upon Ugandans and our development partners to prioritize efforts that will enable Uganda transform from a peasant society to an upper middle income country by 2040,” he said.

Musinguzi said Uganda’s population of 38m currently has a lot of challenges, including dependence burden, where a small number of working people support a big number of dependants, as well as high fertility and mortality rates.

To assist teenage mothers, NPC donated hospital beds, labour suite beds and mattresses to Rwekubo health centre IV, as part of celebrations. Jackie Katana, the International Advocacy Officer at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung (DSW), said religion is still a major challenge in fighting teenage pregnancies since many Muslims believe in marrying off their children when they are still young.

The White Ribbon Alliance-Uganda (WRAU) asked President Museveni to invest in policies aimed at reducing the high number of teenage pregnancies, since they affects women’s health and their social-economic development.

“If girls stay in school, they will delay pregnancy, acquire productive or employable skills and be in a position to contribute to economic development,” Dora Ayebazibwe, the Adolescent Representative WRAU said.

Ayebazibwe said, about 34 per cent of teenage girls drop out of school due to pregnancy. But this can be minimized if policies to reduce the problem are effectively implemented.

Ayebazibwe said more than 300,000 teenagers who get pregnant account for the bulk of unwanted pregnancies, which end up in abortion. She said poverty, lack of sex education and weak enforcement of policies contribute to teenage pregnancies.

However, President Museveni who officiated at the World Population day events at Isingiro district headquarters, discouraged the teaching of sex education in schools saying there are better ways of teaching children about sex and sexuality, but urged girls to take their education seriously.

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