A by-law to curb rampant cases of early marriages in Ntoroko district is yet to bear fruits as the district registers more cases. Last year the district council passed the by-law following the high school dropout rates caused by early marriages.
According to the by-law, parents who marry off their children below 18 years were liable to a fine of 100,000 shillings or a jail term of one month or both. The by-law also called for punishment of the man who has married the young girl. He is liable to pay 100,000 shillings, jailed for one month or both.
Residents and religious leaders are now accusing political leaders of turning a blind eye as cases of early marriages continue to rise. Current statistics at the district probation department indicate that since June last year, more than fifty girls have been married off.
Denis Masereka, a resident of Karugutu Town Council says the local leaders should be ashamed for not enforcing the by-law which they passed.
Rashida Tumusiime, a resident of Nombe village in Karugutu town council, says the by-law can’t be implemented, since some of the local leaders connive with the parents to marry off their daughters. She also says that some leaders are even related to the men who defile the young girls.
Tumusiime says if the by-law is to be successful, its implementation should be left to the police and not the politicians.
Primary and secondary schools in the district have also recorded an increase in the number of girls dropping out of school. Records at the district education department indicate that 56% of the girls aged below 15 years have dropped out of school.
At Nombe Primary School, the headmistress, Gertrude Masika, says that five girls from the school aged 16 years were married off two weeks ago. Three of the girls were in Primary Five while two were in Primary Seven.
Masika says that they have written to the district authorities and have the children return to school, but nothing has been done about it.
Francis Baguma, the Busirika sub county Community Development Officer, blames both local leaders and parents for being uncooperative and negligent. He says whenever they are called to attend meetings to discuss the issue, they shun the meetings.
Baguma says that social workers in the sub-county have resolved to implement the by-law and hand over the culprits to police.