KAMPALA — Several Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers deployed on Lake Albert to combat illegal fishing practices have been accused of defiling and impregnating several teenagers especially Butiaba Sub-county in Bulisa Districts.
Mr. Edison Oryema, the Project Officer, Recreation for Development Peace Uganda (RDP-U) in Hoima and Bulisa Districts said that the soldiers are engaging in unprotected sex with many underage girls in the area during this period when they were not going to school.
“In Buliisa district alone, we registered over 200 cases of teenage pregnancy in the first lockdown. Then in the second lockdown, we have recorded over 70 cases and most of the perpetrator of these cases are government officials and the Army,” Mr. Oryem said at the sidelines of District Intergrity Promotion Forum Anti-Corruption Campaign Dialogue held Buliisa District Headquarters on Monday November 22.
Mr. Oryem cited several incidents including where a top ranking UPDF officer attached to Wantembu Marine Brigade is reportedly impregnated a senior two student who gave birth a to fellow child last week on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
Another UPDF officer attached to Butiaba Police detach is also accused of defiling and impregnating a 17-year-old girl. Oryem told reporters outside the Dialogue that recording these cases with police is often met with resistance, —citing orders from ‘above’.
“When the issue was reported to Police, the OC police post of Butiaba refused to enter the case,” Oryem noted citing gross impunity by the soldiers.
“We also have a case where a 16-year old girl at Butiaba Primary School was impregnated by the LCIII for Butiaba Town Council but the issue was compromised. The Girl’s parents were convinced to receive something so that the case is settled before reaching the court”.
Vicent Babyesiza, Project Coordinator, Bagungu Community Association (BACA) said the phenomenon is not limited to Butiaba, alone but has spread across all the other landing sites where the army is deployed.
Without giving statistics, he said there many more girls impregnated by soldiers in rural areas which have not been recorded.
Mr. Longino Bahebwa, the Buliisa District RDC who presided over half day dialogue organised by ActionAid International Uganda warned soldiers against sleeping with young girls and promised to follow up the matter and take action.
Baheebwa said the two year lockdown has facilitated early marriages mostly affecting girls between 14 and 16 years, noting that available data shows that relatives are also sleeping with these young girls.
“We condemn that as government and when this happens, most of them don’t go and report to Police. The families sit and resolves the cases there and then. This shouldn’t be allowed”.
He called upon the stakeholders to come and help the so that children are free from getting pregnanciea when they are young. He rallied parents to ensure children go back to school when they open in January 2022.
ActionAid International Uganda in collaboration with likeminded partners launched the Anti-Corruption week, a platform for citizens to engage duty bearers and provide evidence of transparency and accountability violations to the state and effects of corruption on public services in their different constituencies.
Mr. Richard Okuku, ActionAid official said the Anti-Corruption dialogues are aimed at creating an informed and active citizenry in governance and accountability issues and responsiveness of the government towards quality service delivery.