OPINION! Cultural institutions should protect the girl child

Girls young as 10 were also paraded

By Steven Masiga

Recently in the Elgon region of Bugisu, girls as young as 10 years of age were paraded on the streets of Mbale city, 90% half naked in the name of celebrating cultural diversity among a number of tribes. This nude parading of the girl child even drew the wrath of the Uganda women parliamentary association (UWOPA) which challenged the Uganda police force to go after the organizers of the now infamous Elgon festival.

Such overt practice of exposure of our teenage girls to salivating cosmopolitans of the city has a number of ramifications. Firstly the HIV prevalence is higher in the city; child birth is on the rise; and thirdly such a ceremony offends all Ugandan laws on protection of the girl child. S
Section 13 and 14 of the pornography Act 2014 imposes very stringent penalties on any one found exposing teenager’s nudeness to the public.
Among the Baganda there is the famous kisakaati where young girls are assembled in some organized place and taught a few basics about their culture and other needed practices of life, the Elgon festival organizers should have borrowed a leaf from the Buganda culture on how to protect the girl child.

It is a dangerous practice to mix young girls of 10 years and moreover naked with dangerous adults who are of no relations to them at all.

Bugisu cultural institution through the institution’s spokesperson dissociated itself from such practices of parading young girls as though they were heading for circumcision; the spokesperson said among the Bamasaaba girls are not allowed to undress before strangers.

Any Ugandan culture or custom that is at variance with the nation’s laws should be condemned and accordingly outlawed. The spirit behind Article 2(2) of our constitution should not be compromised.

The constitution succinctly states that any law or custom that is variance with the constitution is a nullity. In the future, organizers of such functions including enforcement agencies must address themselves on the law before sanctioning such activities.

The public outcry among many stakeholders indicates somebody slumbered over their jobs. In future proper safe guards should be followed so that we don’t end up reincarnating abolished practices like Female Gender Mutilation (FGM).

The other day while celebrating the international day of the African child, similar emphasis was made on protection of the girl child.

Cultural institutions should thus reassert themselves and protect these young children who will be future mothers and leaders of our nation.

The author is a researcher from Mbale.Tel: 0706655811.


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