Plight of Young Girls in Uganda

In this crowded Ugandan classroom where Corey Streeter taught English, only one skirt is visible.  The WHO says that 20% of female students in East Africa will drop out before secondary school. 

Jordan Miller went on an East Africa Immersion trip to Uganda with four other students who are training at our Institute for G.O.D. Int’l. During her five-week immersion she spent three days with an organization called AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation). AMREF has 50 years of medical experience in East Africa and Jordan was able to receive first hand experience alongside medical professionals working in a nearby slum and at a youth center. The following is an article Jordan wrote reflecting back on her time at the slum and youth center.

In East Africa, one does not have to look far to recognize that women continue to endure oppression. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), if you look into any primary school classroom you will see more male students than female. This disparity only increases as students age and young girls are robbed of educational opportunities. By the time those students reach secondary school, 20% of the female students will have dropped out (WHO).

As families are forced to weigh the need for their children to be educated against feeding their family, they choose the latter in order to preserve life. Recognizing the value of their education, some girls turn to prostitution in order to obtain funds to pay for school. Girls as young as eleven, sell their bodies to older men in exchange for minimal money. They risk pregnancy, disease, public shame, and abuse so that they can receive an education. While still children, 16% of Ugandan girls will conceive a child themselves. Uganda has one of the world’s highest adolescent birth rates (WHO).

Pregnancy will end the girls’ educational pursuit. When parents become aware, they may physically abuse their daughter or disown her in order to save the family from shame. Both situations prevent a girl from continuing her education. If she attempts to hide the pregnancy, her education is still uncertain. Secondary schools periodically perform pregnancy tests and girls found pregnant are “unofficially” expelled. School officials fear the retaliation from other students’ parents. So in order to retain high numbers of students, school officials assure that adolescent pregnancy is hidden.

Girls entangled in this type of prostitution are abused by the men that take advantage of them. The men that oppress these vulnerable girls are not held accountable for their actions, leaving the young girls alone to provide for themselves and their new child in a hostile world. While these girls desire education in hopes of escaping the poverty that surrounds them, they become entrapped and abandoned in it.

Instead of throwing a stone at the woman accused of adultery, Jesus intervenes, saving her from death. He could see that which others ignored. Jesus understood that while the woman did sin, others were also responsible. The man who participated with her and the neighbors that did not act are also responsible. We recognize that adolescent pregnancy in Uganda is a societal issue. By educating men in the word of God, we believe that men can learn to value women and not to participate in oppression. As we empower fathers with new agriculture skills, they will be able to provide for their families, saving their daughters from prostitution. In mentoring young girls, we hope to help them find alternative ways of earning school fees.