Gender Minister stops wedding of 9-year-old girl
The State minister for Gender and Culture, Ms Peace Mutuuzo, has cancelled at least seven weddings involving young girls, including that of a 9-year-old girl from Sembabule District.
“Abduction of young girls into marriage is rampant. In the last few months, I have disorganised about seven weddings involving very young girls, the recent one being of a 9-year-old girl from Ssembabule District,” Ms Mutuuzo said during a symposium organised by the Gender ministry in Kampala last Friday.
“The man had packed a V8 vehicle in the compound and the wedding was going on at the girl’s parents’ home in Ssembabule. Someone tipped me about it. I immediately went there and stopped the marriage and asked police to take over,” she said.
The minister also said the practice of families forcing their underage daughters into marriage in exchange for cattle is rampant in pastoral communities.
“Some few women come behind the scenes and secretly inform duty bearers that their husbands are planning to marry off their young daughters. When you marry a 9-year-old, which kind of partner will you have to debate with issues of national importance,’’ the minister wondered.
The Constitution of Uganda 1995 and the Children Act (2016) state that the minimum legal age of marriage in Uganda is 18 years.
The laws do not allow those under age to get married. According to the Constitution, a child is a boy or girl below the age of 18. The Constitution also states that marriage shall be entered into with free consent of the man and woman intending to marry.
In June, the government launched a national strategy to end child marriage and teenage pregnancy in the country by 2026.
The strategy, developed by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, focuses on four core areas: education, resilience and livelihoods, health and nutrition, and child protection.
The National Planning Authority data, which was released last year, also shows that the country loses Shs1.6 trillion annually in tackling issues of harmful cultural practices.