Detectives in Kyotera District are hunting for a 40-year-old woman and five men who connived to kidnap a 14-year-old student for a forced marriage.
The victim (names withheld) is a Senior One at Kabaale -Ssanje Secondary School in Kyotera District.
A source in Kyotera Police told Monitor that an aunt to the student was allegedly promised Shs250, 000 to kidnap and take the girl to a rented room at Kamuganja Village, Kakuuto Sub-County, where a 55-year-old man was waiting to take the girl as his wife.
“Our preliminary investigations indicate that the victim’s aunt hired a boda-boda and ordered the girl to go with her without telling her the destination,” the police source said.
In these pictures obtained from a videograb, the suspects are seen kidnapping the girl ahead of a planned forced marriage in Kyotera District on August 6, 2022. VIDEO PICTURES/COURTESY
A video recorded and circulated on social media by a passer-by captured six men who emerged from a car, grabbed the girl off a motorcycle and swiftly forced her into a waiting car as she wailed. About 10 people were at the scene, including a woman who shared a motorcycle with the victim but watched on as the drama unfolded.
Police early this week recovered the victim of the August 6 incident crying profusely from a room in Kyotera District- where she had been abandoned by the suspects still on the run.
Kyotera Police Community Liaison Officer Godfrey Asiimwe August 11 revealed that a relative took advantage of the death of the victim’s father to plan a forced marriage of the deceased’s daughter.
“We were told that the girl’s father was very strict and wanted her to study up to university. But when he died, the aunt sweet-talked and convinced the mother and took her (victim) promising education,” he explained.
On Thursday, Mr Asiimwe said the victim is now being counselled and will be assisted to return to school from next term.
Forced marriages are a common vice seen to be a quicker source of bride wealth in rural Kyotera District. They are usually clandestinely arranged by parents and some local leaders.
Additionally, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) shows that Uganda has the 16th highest prevalence of child marriage in the world and the 10th highest absolute number of child brides globally.
“Whenever we get information about such cases, we fail to get conclusive evidence to pin perpetrators because some parents connive with them. The victims are also are intimidated and can hardly tell the truth,” a Community Development Officer in Kyotera District, Ms Prossy Namuwawu observed.
In the country, 10 per cent of girls are married before 15 years and 40 per cent are married by the age of 18.
Over the last 10 years, Uganda like many other countries had made progress against such transactional girl-child marriages but the Covid-19 pandemic dealt those efforts a huge blow.
According to Section 129 of the Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 2007, any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen, commits a felony known as defilement and is on conviction liable to life imprisonment.
Any person who attempts to perform a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen commits an offence and is on conviction, liable to imprisonment not exceeding eighteen years.