Police in Otwee town council, Amuru District, are holding 8 people over child marriage.
Those arrested include the groom Charles Ojok and the teenage bride, a primary six pupil at Oloyotong primary school in Amuru district. Others under custody are Eveline Aciro the teenager’s mother, the girl’s uncle, Nyeko Abuja, John Okwir who is an uncle to the bridegroom, Elnato Kibwota, Joseph Komakech, and Wilberforce Okwonga.
The suspects were arrested on Saturday afternoon from Oloyotong village in Amuru sub-county while holding a celebratory party for a successful traditional Acholi marriage that took place on Friday evening.
Reports indicate that Ojok and his relatives on Friday evening paid dowry and an unspecified amount to the family of the teenage girl in exchange for her hand in marriage.
Michael Lakony, the Amuru district chairperson said that the police and district authorities were notified of the illegal marriage, prompting them to rush to the scene on Saturday where they arrested the ill-fitting couple and their relatives.
Apollo Okello, the Amuru district secretary for education decried the rising cases of teenage pregnancies and early marriages in the district, something he attributes to poor parenting, love for money, and domestic disputes.
Over the past, there has been an increase in cases of child marriages and teenage pregnancies in Uganda, Covid19 and the closure of schools, have only made the situation worse.
According to UNICEF Uganda, Uganda is one of the countries with the highest early and forced marriage. 10% of girls are married off before the age of 15 and 40% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday
Previous studies and particularly the Uganda Demographic Health Survey (UDHS) 2011 (Uganda Bureau of Statistics [UBOS] and ICF International Inc, 2012) and the child poverty report by UNICEF (2014) indicate that child marriage is a reality in Uganda especially among the rural poor.
Addressing child marriage is in line with the government’s commitment to ending all forms of discrimination and ensuring the protection of children’s rights.