The Vice President, Jessica Alupo, and Busia Municipality Member of Parliament, Geoffrey Macho clashed at the Children’s summit at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Wednesday over sanitary pads.
It all started when the organizers led by Moses Ntenga, the Executive Director of Joy for Children invited Macho to give a speech on behalf of the Uganda Parliamentary Committee for Children and later on invite Alupo to address the participants.
Macho used the chance to sting the government and blamed the increasing cases of violence against children, especially defilement on the unmet government promises such as the provision of free sanitary towels to female learners.
He explained that over time, the government has made promises that give false hope insisting that girls in schools could not be getting pregnant if the executive had fulfilled its promise to provide them free sanitary towels.
Macho noted that in rural areas for instance in eastern Uganda, girls are being sexually abused with promises of buying them sanitary towels which, cost a paltry 3,000 Shillings. “In some areas, girls are using leaves and others have to sit in the dust when in their menses. How can this still be happening for a government that has been in power for more than 30 years?” Macho asked.
Macho’s statement attracted applause from the crowd, which mainly comprised child rights activists and children. Museveni promised free pads to all girls in schools during the 2016 presidential campaign.
However, the government is yet to fulfill the pledge six years down the road. Macho’s statements didn’t go down well with Alupo, who asked him to stop engaging in counter-accusations because he serves in the second arm of government that passes budgets.
“This should not be an issue of accusations and counter-accusations but it should be an issue of who has which responsibility and roles to play. Let me tell you, you’re part of this government. It’s you, members of Parliament who allocate the budget,” Alupo said.
The children’s summit was meant to discuss issues of violence against children, especially the girls who have been defiled, and impregnated and some have been pushed into unintended marriages or drug abuse.
Moses Ntenga, the Executive director of Joy for Children, said there was a need to have a multi-sectoral approach to addressing issues surrounding violence against children. This, according to Ntenga, would be achieved by ensuring everyone is involved.
Reverend Christopher Kato, the Chaplain at St. Janan Luwum said the church was very concerned about the rate at which teenagers were getting pregnant. Kato said there was a need for parents to rejuvenate their parenting roles and always give messages of hope to their children whenever they have challenges.
“Do not bring blame messages. Use scriptures as we do in the church to give hope to children. Why should young children get married,” Kato said. Andrew Mukiibi, the Executive director of Nnabagereka foundation and a behavioral specialist said the incidents of violence against children by adults or child to child are signs of a morally decayed society.
“We need to address the issue of immorality. How can a man of whatever age think if having sex with a girl below 18 years? Policies are in place but they have not addressed the violence against children because the issue of immorality isn’t being addressed,” Mukiibi said.