There is an estimated 304,000 people living in modern slavery in Uganda (GSI 2018). Under the Children Act (2016), the minimum legal age of marriage in Uganda is 18 years old with no exceptions. However, there are challenges with enforcing the ban as child marriage is not defined within the penal code, and perpetrators often do not face justice unless there are signs of serious violent assault.
Growing up in rural Uganda, Loyia went to school for just three years as her parents could not afford her education and at 15-years-old she was forced to marry.
My husband’s family paid a dowry of goats and money. I didn’t know this man before I married him and it never felt good because it was a forced marriage. I wasn’t happy but I had no choice, my parents made me.
I was 16 when I had my first baby and now I have seven children. There was a great deal of violence in my marriage and eventually, my husband left. He does not support our children so now I have to struggle. I try to manage, but I have problems getting enough food to feed everyone. Sometimes I don’t have enough to pay for school fees or other essentials.
It’s a good idea that my daughter has been given a goat. It helps us to keep her in school. We can breed it to have one kid a year that we can sell for 80,000 shillings (around US$21). We can use the money to pay for school fees and scholastic materials.
Most women in our community have not gone to school, are sidelined and they don’t get the help they require. I want my daughters to go to school because I want them to achieve what I did not.
Narrative and image provided by Equality Now