State minister of youth and children affairs Evelyn Anite during a press conference at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala on June 15, 2015. Photo/Francis Emorut

State minister of youth and children affairs Evelyn Anite during a press conference at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala on June 15, 2015. Photo/Francis Emorut

This is part of a strategy to end early child marriage and teenage pregnancies.

The strategy will be launched Tuesday at Kayunga district by the minister of gender, labour, and social development Muruli Mukasa.

This coincides with celebrations to mark the Day of African Child under the theme ?25 years of after the adoption of The African Children?s Charter: Time for Action To End Child Marriages in Uganda.?

According to a recent UNICEF report it is estimated that over 143 million girls would be married before age 18, by 2020.

This is an average of 14.2 million girls below the age being married yearly.

The World Vision 2013 report indicates that Uganda was ranked 16th among 25 countries with the highest rates of early marriages; with 46% of girls marrying before 18 years and 12% before the age 15.

?Those (girls) who don?t have birth certificates we shall rely on the community members to tell us the age of the girl and for serious cases we shall use DNA tests because it can prove to us the age of the child,? Evelyn Anite, the state minister of youth and children affairs, said.

She said government would lobby for funds from development partners for the DNA tests.

The minister made the remarks during a media briefing at Media Centre in Kampala on Monday. She warned those who marrying underage girls that they would be prosecuted by courts of law.

?Those involved in these illegal acts will not be tolerated. We are going to use the Police and other authorities to hunt down the culprits,? she said.

She emphasized that children must stay at school and not be married off at an early age.

?Those involved will be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law. Child marriage and teenage pregnancies as well as any other forms of child labour must stop,? Anite stated.

The minister who was flanked by the assistant commissioner children affairs, James Kaboggoza, noted that a strategy to end early child marriage would also be launched during celebrations at Baale sub-county headquarters in Kayunga district.

She listed steps to be undertaken by government to end teenage pregnancies and early child marriages as changing dominant thinking and social norms related to child marriage in the communities; improve policy and legal environment to protect children and promotion of girl child?s rights.

The other areas of focus to curb child marriage would include providing a framework within which critical challenges affecting girls and women empowerment would be addressed as well as improved access to quality sexual and reproductive health services, education and child protection.

Anite explained the reasons why government came up with a strategy to end child marriage as to improve legal and policy environment with specific focus on protection of children rights and to strengthen structures and systems for implementing the national strategic plan to end child marriage among others.

Francis Emorut, The New Vision

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