BRIDE PRICE FUELING GIRLS’ SCHOOL DROPOUT RATES IN WESTERN UGANDA.
Uganda is facing a higher rate of teenage girls’ school dropouts especially in the rural areas of Uganda and our observation is coming from Western parts of Uganda.
Government having introduced Universal Primary education and Universal Secondary Education has not put much efforts in creating a good learning environment for the Ugandan pupils. School infrastructures has remained a big challenge i.e. classrooms not available, sanitation and hygiene remains very poor. In return parents are losing meaning of using government free education (UPE) for their children hence preferring retaining children at home to cultivate crops for household and subsistence of the households.
Many parents in western Uganda especially Bushenyi district have resorted to commercializing their daughters through marriages and as a result getting bride price.
WHAT IS BRIDE PRICE?
A bride price is the custom of a groom paying a woman’s family with money, cows, land or other material goods in exchange for a wife. The tradition originated as an official recognition of a marriage and as a gift for the bride’s family. In this way, the parents have thought of it as a way of gaining from their daughters.
Many girls in rural areas of Bushenyi district are in teenage marriages at age of 13, at this age a girl is not mature to see the essence of marriage neither can they reject the demand of their parents.
These marriages have also been as a result of extreme poverty which is demeaning the importance of attending free education especially on the side of girls. So, parents have seen it as an escape route from the jaws of poverty.
When we talked to Mr. Gafabusa Raymond a community leader and a retired teacher says; ‘’Most advocates for girl child education is failing due to strings of culture in Bushenyi. The culture has continued to look at girls as source of wealth.’’
ABUSE OF WOMEN RIGHTS THROUGH VIOLENT MARRIAGE.
When Janet Akiding wed in 2004, when she was a teenager, her husband’s family paid a “bride price.” That’s the custom in Bukedea, the district of Uganda where she lives. Her parents received four goats, four cows and 200,000 shillings ($56).
Akiding’s marriage eventually turned violent.
“Whenever he’d beat me, he’d say, ‘You people have taken my cows,’ ” recalled Akiding.
The marriage eventually broke and the man demanded back his bride price from the parents.
THE FATE OF EARLY MARRIAGES.
Resty Nakayenga is a Senior 3 students at Kasambya Parents Secondary School. Nakayenga, who is a mother of a one-and-a-half-year-old child, says she was married of at age 15 and made pregnant at 16 by a 40-year-old man whom her father had introduced to as her husband.
Nakayenga is among 24 per cent of teenage girls in Uganda, who get pregnant before the age of 19 as a result if early marriages by their parents.
Worse still the victim’s husband eventually neglects them with their children for other women with no support for livelihood.
Many human rights Organization have come up to advocate for girl child education but have been limited by resources and funds and the government is not playing its part fully.
However, the country’s highest court in August 17th 2015 ruled parts of the practice unconstitutional, paving the way for a greater protection of women rights. But the court ruling is not enough to curb the practice. It takes great intervention from the government of community grounds.
POWER MINDS YOUTH ORGANISATION strongly advocates for girl child education in Uganda and we also empower teenage mothers and out of schools dropouts with skills to help them begin a livelihood.
We also help schools in achieving better sanitation and hygiene through constructions of better sanitation and hygiene facilities.
These projects are funded by People Help People One World Idstein Germany with the leadership of Mr. Bernhard Wingerberg
Authur: Nicholas Ssenjala Community development advocate and Founder/Executive Director Power Minds Youth Organisation.