The Parliamentary COVID19 Taskforce in Amudat district met girls fleeing female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage seeking shelter at Kalas Girls primary school. The girls are supported by the National Association of Women’s Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU) with funding from the Embassy of Ireland.
From the instatement of the first lockdown in 2020, the number of girls sheltered has progressively increased from 9 to 30 currently. The school, the school administration and the teachers are currently overwhelmed because of numbers, and continually having to provide a skeleton staff to watch over the girls when other children have gone home.
NAWOU Program Officer Merab Alosikin shared the experiences of the girls and how the pandemic has affected their education and made them susceptible to FGM. Ms. Merab recommends that the government builds a vocational school and reception center for girls who escape FGM to take care of the older girls and where any girl can find shelter when faced with the risk of violation.
There is also need for a multi-pronged approach to ending FGM where communities are supported to increase their incomes so that they stop considering children as their source of income through marriage.