The state of teenage pregnancies in rural Uganda
During my stay in Manafwa I made a friend that is a teenage mother, and this opened up a conversation about teenage pregnancies, its causes, consequences and the solutions to this problem.
The major cause of teenage pregnancy is the lack of guidance due to parents and guardians who are reluctant or do not understand the need to educate their teenagers about the vices and sexual reproductive behaviour. This leaves the teenagers not properly guided during their teenage years of growth, yet this is a crucial time whereby their cognitive, emotional and social skills mature. Through conversations with the towns people I got to find out that the issue of early marriages is contributing to the increase of teenage pregnancies. The main reason leading to early marriages is poverty, and parents in rural areas often marry off their teenage daughters in exchange for dowry and monetary gifts, through this many young girls end up getting defiled and as a result become pregnant. The parents would rather settle for money than reporting cases of rape to the police because they are afraid of losing on the dowry they are receiving from the men marrying their teenage daughters. So, one can say that the major causes of teenage pregnancies are poverty, lack of knowledge and irresponsible parents.
Many articles and reports have been written about this issue and the consequences that follow. According to Dr. Sophie Namasopo in an article published in the Ugandan news outlet Daily Monitor, more than 80 teen mothers deliver at her hospital of residence monthly and that these deliveries often come with complications like premature and still births, prolonged labour and fistula among others, adding that this is caused mainly because these girls’ bodies are not prepared to have children yet. Teenage pregnancies come with many other consequences than those named above such as sexually transmitted diseases, family planning challenges and unsafe abortions.
Most of these teenage mothers are from poor backgrounds and are unable to support themselves which means they have difficulties supporting their offspring in terms of needs like education, healthcare, shelter and food. This burden later leads to a continuous chain of poverty cycles. Teenage pregnancy also has proven to be a burden to communities and the government of Uganda especially in terms of expenditure in attempts to curb down the detrimental effects of teenage pregnancy on the lives of teenagers.
So, as an organisation what services are Kids of Uganda providing to help these teenage mothers and the community? Within our Family Support Program, we organize workshops where we educate women on safe sex, contraceptives, dangers of abortion and consent. If any teenage mother feel like she cannot take care of her child we can, through the Familty Support Program, support her in leaving the child with an adult relative instead of putting the child in an orphanage. We believe its better for the child to live with relatives, because living with family inserts family values and morals.
Our Family Support Program intervenes by ensuring the child safety with the relatives they are given to, and we also provide means for the child’s upkeep and educations. Kids of Uganda a are strong advocates for children’s right and that’s why we are in constant contact with local authorities when it comes to violations of any child’s rights.
/Maria, Intern Kids of Uganda