Africa, East Africa, Gender Issues, Society

Uganda: 78-Year-Old Man Arrested for Marrying 13-Year-Old Girl



UGANDA – Amudat — Police in Amudat district in Karamoja sub region in the north eastern Uganda has arrested a 78-year-old man for marrying a 13-year-old girl.

Mr Lowuse Angatemong who is married to three other women was arrested on Sunday after paying 40 heads of cattle to the father of the teenage girl.

They are all residents of Nagulet village in Loro Sub County in Amudat district.

Detective Saidi Kasim attached to Amudat police station told Daily Monitor that the father of the girl was also arrested and will be charged for procuring defilement and forced marriage.

According to Kasim the girl escaped from the old man’s home to the nearby army detach where she was kept for one day before police were called by the detach commander.

“It’s very sad news. The girl ran away from this old man’s home to the hands of the army who informed the police,” he said.

Mr Kasim said the suspects will be arraigned in court and charged.

The Mt Moroto regional police commander Mr Richard Aruk Maruk warned parents against marrying off young girls so as to get wealth.

He confirmed there was an increase of forced marriage and defilement cases especially in Moroto and Amudat warning that he will deal with perpetrators.

Mr Francis Kiyong, the district LCV chairperson of Amudat condemned the practice of marrying off young girls saying it was outdated.

He also asked the police to embark on sensitizing the community about the laws saying many people in the district don’t know what the law says.

Child marriage remains one of the silent evils in Uganda today according to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS).

A 2016 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report on the state of world’s children titled A fair chance for every child, some 750 million women will have been married as children – three quarters of a billion child brides by 2030 if no action is taken.

“These vast inequities and dangers do more than violate the rights and imperil the futures of individual children. They perpetuate intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and inequality that undermine the stability of societies and even the security of nations everywhere,” read part of the report released Tuesday.

In-spite of the legal provision, the traditional practice of child marriage persists among many ethnic groups in Uganda.

A 2007 study by Jain and Kurz ranked Uganda 9 among the top 20 ‘hotspot’ countries for child marriage.

In 2013 World Vision ranked Uganda 16th among 25 countries with the highest rates of early marriages; with 46 percent of girls marrying before 18 years, and 12 percent before they are 15 years).

A recent Population Council and UNICEF supported study posits Uganda in the middle of the range with over 20 percent of girls aged 15 -19 years categorized as ever married.