Protect the girl child during the lockdown

One of the ways that we have stressed as a nation and world to protect the girl child from early marriage and pregnancy is by keeping them in school.

Public universities in Uganda give girls a 1.5 points advantage to encourage and give them the opportunity to reach higher levels of learning. Different organizations run media campaigns to educate parents about the dangers of marrying off their young girls and others contribute both directly and indirectly to the smooth learning of girls.

A lot of girls have accomplished great and formerly unimaginable achievements. Uganda has many women who occupy big government offices who have come out to reveal how their fathers wanted to marry them off but they resisted and continued with studies and that’s why they are currently big people.

Ugandan girls used to be known as the ones to remain home doing house chores and taking care of fellow children yet boys would be studying, but now some change is being realized.

The COVID-19 wave that swept the whole world has brought a new normal. The second term of learning has been registered dead, so has a second semester for university students.

Kenya’s education ministry announced that they are abandoning this academic year completely. It was news and a shock to many. Being our close neighbor, we have to think of the probability of the same being announced here. Of course, far be it from us!

It is hard not to imagine that our youngsters are facing temptations that the boarding school protected them from or what the hours they spent at school kept them from. There are now half employed bodaboda men, taxi touts (mentioned only because of being predominantly male sectors). The rising cost of food scared many parents into sending their children to villages where they spend time with “uncles and uncle’s friends”.

As we slowly go back to work, the children are left at home alone because the nanny was called back to escape the “COVID-19 in Kampala”!

Thanks to President Museveni for maintaining the curfew although it wouldn’t be a shock to find underage girls at the Rolex stall late in the night. Without curfew and partial lockdown, richer kids would be throwing bashes and the drugs and immorality at such events are untold.

The doors are many for the kids to fall into the wrong behaviors right now. Even during day hours, children locked up with a television set are not any protected.

They now follow a dozen soap operas that are ever about a cheating spouse that you end up feeling sorry for and justifying. It is all about forbidden love.

The constant absenteeism of parents in the lives of their children has made teachers much more suited to raise the kids. This could be the idea behind boarding school.

Parents and guardians that trusted boarding school to handle their adolescents are now face to face with them, no senior woman teachers to teach them about growing up. Sex education has been ignored a lot by parents. According to news reports in the Daily Monitor, 2,300 school girls have conceived while 128 have been married off during the lockdown.

But this isn’t time to blame each other; this is your time that COVID-19 has availed. Rise up and talk to your children about sex. There are age-appropriate materials for children of every age. Find help if possible, spare them the details of course but when you feel shy just remember, those defilers are not any ashamed into luring them into sex. Let the children endure the “trauma” of being grounded at home than the trauma of being raped or defiled. Find engaging materials other than the TV. Try games, piano lessons, baking, regulate their social media time and buy them books. Don’t send them away anyhow and keep them close to you and empower them to make right and informed decisions about their bodies. Talk to the girls about saying NO, and to the boys about the dangers of teenage fatherhood and the beautiful manner of respecting females.

Also lurking are perverted sex groups that are looking to recruit anyone naive. They have some money to offer too. Messages are once again going around asking receivers to join Illuminati. Perverts know that the children have a lot of idle time and are using this opportunity to attack. As children continue to own smartphones at a younger age, you can’t stop yours, teach them about adults that will ask for their nude pictures online. Walk them through options of what to do when faced with pornographic material.

Speak English or French; speak punishment or reward; any will do so long as you have fulfilled your parental role. Before they are the state’s children, it’s are a parent or guardians’ responsibility.

Now that the tides have changed, it is time to row, and row hard! May it all be fruitful for our nation’s mamas and papas.

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