‘Teen Voices’ Series: Early Marriage In Uganda Prevents Girls From Education & Promotes Violence

Image: Jessica Lea/DFID

This is the second post in our ‘Teen Voices’ series on GTHQ. We partnered with a non-profit organization called Women In Leadership, based out of Uganda, to help promote one of their initiatives. In the Teen Voices Program, they encourage high school girls in the rural town of Busembatia to write article about their lives, and the challenges they face as females in a largely patriarchal society. These stories are then published online, reaching an international audience.

WIL also shows the girls how to use social media to share news and advocate for change. Through teaching the girls about gender equality, and helping them write articles to raise awareness, they gain the knowledge and the confidence of how they can improve gender equality through their own leadership. We will be publishing a series of short articles written by girls in the program, touching on topics such as education, reproductive rights, health, and gender-related stigma they are actively trying to break down.

You can read the first entry in the series here, and read the latest entry below.

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By Kiskye Moureen

Early marriage is where a person gets married under the age of 18, either by choice or through force. This act is mainly happening to girls. Parents are denying girls their education by forcing them to get married, in order for the parents to enjoy bride price. While in 2015, the Ugandan Supreme Court ruled that there could be no refunds on bride price (meaning that if a couple gets divorced, the ex-husband doesn’t get his money back), bride price is still a commonly occurring practice, in both rural and urban areas.

In Bukumankola village, there was a girl named Caroline. This girl wanted to get an education, but when she was studying in Primary Seven, her mother died from a motor accident when she was traveling home from Kamuli. The accident occurred after the mother visited Caroline at her school in the month of July, soon before the Primary Leaving Examination was about to commence. When Caroline was told about her mother’s death, she fainted and was taken back home. Caroline had been very much loved by her mother.

After the burial, Caroline wanted to go back to school, but her father told her that she should repeat Primary Seven, implying that she had to begin her studies the following year. Since the girl loved education, she decided to go to a nearby Government school and began studying as a day scholar.

After a month, Caroline’s father decided to get another wife, but this woman was rude and merciless, because when she was still a visitor in the home, she told Caroline to end her studies and start focusing on domestic work. When Caroline complained about her stepmother to her father, he told her that she must abide by the rules and regulations of her new mother.

One day, Caroline decided to go to school, but consequently she was caned, slapped and kicked, to the extent of almost dying, and her father had to take her to the hospital. Whenever Caroline was mistreated, she missed her mother who had loved her so much, and she would start to cry. Caroline was only 14 years old, but she was doing work that was meant to be done by married women. Due to money shortages, the stepmother decided to bring around men who would want to have sex with her 14-year-old stepdaughter whenever the father went to work. Caroline was raped by these men.

One day, Caroline woke up and decided to make the trip to her Auntie’s place in Iganga. By that time, her father had gone to work because he was a businessman. When she arrived at her Auntie’s place, Caroline told her the story of how her stepmother was behaving in the absence of her father.

After a week, Caroline’s auntie told her to prepare so that they could go back home and caution the stepmother. When the day came, Caroline and her aunt made the trip back home. While they were on their way, Auntie called Caroline’s father and told him to come home immediately, even though he was at work. The aunt conducted the meeting of group; Caroline, her aunt, her father and stepmother.

She told Caroline’s father how the stepmother brought old men to the house to have sex with Caroline, but the father simply said, “Without wasting time, I will talk with her mother so that she can change”. Caroline’s father provided transport back home for the aunt, and she left. After the aunt left, Caroline was seriously caned by her father and stepmother for calling on her auntie to settle the issue.

When Caroline was 16 years old, her stepmother proposed marriage for the young girl. The father stupidly accepted, and one day Caroline was called from her room by her stepmother and told that she was to be married. She refused but was forced into marriage anyway, because her parents wanted to receive bride price. When Caroline went to be married, she cried and cried, and remembered her biological mother who died while she was still young.

Caroline now has two children from her forced marriage. The father and stepmother now have six children, and the money from Caroline’s marriage has since dried up. Early marriage is common in our community, because parents are interested in the bride wealth given to them. But the community leaders are trying their level best to fight against this practice.

I encourage parents to be aware that girls have bright futures so don’t discriminate girls from boys, because they must be given equal rights and opportunities.

 

3 Comments

  1. vanshika mittal says:

    i couldn’t believe that still all these happens shame on everyone who do all these things common yaar it’s 2017 don’t do all this

  2. Pingback: 'Teen Voices' Series: Barriers To Safe Abortion In Uganda Leading To Unhealthy & Dangerous Outcomes - GirlTalkHQ

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