NEBBI. Cultural leaders in Alur Kingdom have decried the rampant cases of teenage pregnancy and early marriages which they said if not addressed, may degenerate into a much worse situation for the society in the future.

They now want a concerted effort to address it especially during the current situation of Covid-19 pandemic where everyone seems to be running away from their responsibilities.

Speaking during a dialogue meeting on Thursday in Paidha town council, Ms Janice Pikwo, the women representative at Kaal Umua said there is need for collective intervention for the vice to reduce because cultural institutions can come out with pronouncements but if there is no government or religious leaders’ support, it may not work.

“Parents tend to blame their children more yet in reality most parents have failed in parenting their children right from childhood, so it becomes difficult to correct them when they are older”, she said

She said the issue of children’s rights has been a big challenge where some parents have been arrested for allegedly abusing the rights of their children which has in turn instilled fear in them hence leaving their children to do what they want.

Ms Sharon Kawambe, 19, said she got married at the age of 14 because her parents failed to provide her with the basic needs she needed for school but after having 2 children, she left the marriage due to constant abuse. She is now back in the home of her parents.

“Youths need a collective social support system in order to tackle the anti-social behavior among them because most of the girls who get pregnant or marry at an early age end up becoming a burden to both parents and society”, Kawambe said.

Rwoth Charles Okumu Ombidi, the chief of Ker Panyimur Kwonga said the rise in teenage pregnancy and child marriage is due to loss of respect for cultural values and trading traditional culture for foreign one.

“To restore respect and cultural values, there is a need to bring back the fireplace, social media has come to stay but we need to come out with laws to guide the youths and clan leaders to take lead”, he said.

According to the district statistics, between January and May 2021, Zombo district registered 1866 teenage pregnancies.