Rid Policy of Gender-Based Violence

“If a student is pregnant, she is expelled. Teachers say these expulsions prevent school-year disruptions. “We ask the girl to go home until her life is sorted, and we advise her to change school for stigma from her peers, and also she is not a good example to the rest of the girls,” says Winfred Ogwok, a teacher responsible for addressing girls’ issues at her school in Kampala.”

Edna Namara

This moralistic view, sadly, drives official policy in Uganda that has far reaching negative impact on the the formal education of our girl children.

This past couple of weeks, indeed, some Members of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda (MPs), while debating on the floor of Parliament, did express their objection to school girls who get pregnant being given the opportunity to complete their education.

And they justified and located their objection within the paradigm of the moralistic view that such school girls who get pregnant are “not a good example to the rest of the girls.”

But sincerely, need we remind such MPs of the time when they were LOUDLY SILENT about a KNOWN AGGRESSOR who allegedly IMPREGNATED TENS OF SCHOOL GIRLS in his care; a professor, no less?

It would appear that our MPs need their memory refreshed. So, let me do so. At the time of his death, a human rights advocate wrote this of PROFESSOR MUKIIBI:

“There are several allegations levelled against him of having used his position to engage in sexual affairs with his own female students.

An online newspaper, The Watchdog, reported that many people were shocked by Professor Mukiibi’s act of fathering more than 50 children whereby most of them were as a result of ‘preying’ on some of his students.

It further alleges that during his burial ceremony, over 20 young pregnant girls (probably old girls of St Lawrence Schools) were shut out of the ceremony due to the embarrassment to the Mukiibi family.

Going by the various reports, including the children who were paraded at his burial, prima facie, these allegations are believable.”

Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa

Hypocrisy of our MPs at its best. But such which is consistent with some institutionalised negative beliefs and practices in our communities in Uganda; including the legacies of negative conservative christian religiosity that was forced down our throats by colonial missionaries.

We must detoxify and decolonize our minds so we may shun warped moralists who are vilifying school girls for getting pregnant; and moreover school girls who are likely being impregnated by men of stature and old age.

We must demand that our MPs fulfil their mandate to protect our girls, and this includes originating and passing legislation that will deter the likes of Professor Mukiibi; while at the same time ensuring the victim’s education is not interrupted.

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