Early Marriages: Some western Uganda parents using cow ghee to make their daughters look mature
Stakeholders around western Uganda are concerned over the increasing cases of Gender-gender based violence (GBV) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
This follows cases where some parents/guardians have resorted to using cow ghee by feeding it to their daughters and smearing it around their body parts like arms and bums so that they can look mature and they are married off especially in parts of Kiruhura and Isingiro districts.
Carol Owashaba, the Action for Youth Development Uganda (ACOYDE) team leader and coordinator for Girls not Brides western Uganda says there is a need for joint effort by government, individuals, religious leaders, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders in fighting GBV and other human rights violations.
Owashaba stressed that lack of joint effort in sensitization has created room for escalation of GBV cases which stakeholders are ensuring that it is curbed down.
In western Uganda, districts like Isingiro, Kiruhura, Kyegegwa, Rubirizi, among others are registering many cases including teenage pregnancies, early marriages and other cases.
According to the Isingiro district L CV chairman Jeremiah Kamurari, escalation of such cases is due to poverty, lack of sensitization, and other community challenges though government and other partners are working jointly to fight the cases.
In areas like Kazo and Kiruhura, some parents admitted that early marriages are still common but explained that using cow ghee is a traditional behavior that they believe it makes women fertile especially smearing uncooked ghee around specific body parts.
Some leaders condemned such acts calling them ‘backwardness’.
In the last three weeks, at least four girls aged between 13-15 years who had been married off were rescued following ACOYDE and partners’ intervention.
In Kyegegwa, at least 5 girls were rescued though some were already impregnated after being married off or sexually harassed, one died after giving birth in Rubirizi.
This comes at a point when Uganda is joining the rest of the world to mark 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
This international campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.