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Ouganda : Early marriage, early death

D 28 juillet 2016     H 05:28     A     C 0 messages

Uganda which has one of the world’s highest rates of pre-teen and teenage pregnancies as the east African nation struggles to enforce laws to clamp down on child marriages. 300,000 girls every year get pregnant. One in every four girls aged between 15 and 19 fall pregnant, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, and nearly half of girls are married before 18. Ugandan authorities have struggled to enforce laws that set a minimum marriage age of 18.

A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2013 indicated that early marriages and resultant pregnancies are the biggest cause of deaths among 15 to 19-year-old girls in Uganda, accounting for 20 percent of maternal deaths. Others of those who survive the pregnancies can suffer lasting complications like fistula and disability.

Nakubulwa Mayi, a senior midwife at Mulago Referral Hospital the biggest hospital in the country, said pre-teen pregnancies posed serious physical and emotional risks to young girls. "At this age a girl should be playing with dolls but not to have to handle a baby," she said.

Ignorance on risks of child marriage, limited access to education for girls, cultures dictating girls should marry young, and poverty, have all contributed to this growing trend of child marriage in Uganda.

Agnes Igoye, assistant coordinator of the anti-trafficking task force at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said early marriage is a form of sexual and gender-based violence with physical, social and economic effects. "Once married, few girls return to school even if it becomes economically viable," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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