The Uganda Government needs to stand up for its adolescent girls

As declared by the United Nations, 11th October will be internationally celebrated as ‘The Day of the Girl.’ This year’s theme is “Empowering adolescent girls; a pathway to ending the cycle of violence.” The UN recognized that adolescent girls, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa were doubly marginalized because of their age and gender.


Millions of girls everywhere are subjected to sexual violence and exploitation, discrimination, forced and early marriages, and are bought up in a culture where they are too suppressed to speak up. The Uganda Demographic Health Survey states 56% girls between the ages of 15-24 are subjected to gender-based violence in Uganda. Sexual abuse is the leading sex-related crime reported in Uganda. According to the Uganda Police Annual Crime Report 2013, 9, 598 cases of “defilement” were reported in the last year alone.


Another shocking set of statistics reveal that 80% girls are at the receiving end of the corporal punishment schools children are subjected to. These girls eventually are forced to drop-out of schools because of bullying, sexual harassment, violence, lack of privacy and inadequate sanitary facilities, reported All Africa. Cultural norms and stereotypes that have been prevalent in the regions for centuries permit this abuse and need to be addressed.


[Picture Courtesy:Food for the hungry]

Studies across the world have shown that higher levels of education ensure improved political and economic outcomes, reduction of early marriages and early pregnancies, and instill pride and self-confidence. So the first step towards achieving this is providing young and adolescent girls with education and ensuring a favorable environment for them. Another effective way to help the cause in Uganda is to establish reporting mechanisms that would help in proper treatment of those committing these crimes.