By The Insight Post Uganda
In Uganda, a heated debate is currently underway regarding the distribution of contraceptives to school children and adolescents as part of comprehensive sex education initiatives.
The controversial proposal, which aims to provide sexual and reproductive health information and contraceptives to young people, has sparked mixed reactions across society.
Today, the Church of Uganda, led by Archbishop Dr. Samuel Stephen Kazimba Mugalu, has firmly declared its stance against the distribution of contraceptives to children, emphasising its commitment to upholding cultural and legal norms.
Dr. Kazimba’s statement came during the 24th graduation ceremony of Uganda Christian University in Mukono. He expressed the Church’s strong opposition to supplying contraceptives to children under the age of eighteen, remarking that those advocating for contraceptives for primary schoolgirls should reconsider their position.
“The church will not allow this, as it is against our norms, practices, and culture, and the law in Uganda forbids sexual activity among individuals under the age of eighteen,” Kazimba asserted.
The Archbishop also raised concerns about whether there was a proposal to lower the age of consent from the current eighteen years to fifteen. He stressed the importance of teaching children to abstain from sexual activity.
While contraceptives are widely used to prevent unintended pregnancies, the debate in Uganda has highlighted the social, cultural, and legal complexities surrounding their distribution.
Contraceptive methods encompass a range of devices and drugs, including birth control pills, condoms, intrauterine devices, vaginal rings, and injectable and implantable products.
The controversy deepened when Dr. Charles Olara, a Senior Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, voiced support for providing sexual and reproductive health information and contraceptives to fifteen-year-olds in need, without stigma, discrimination, or judgment.
Olara argued that reproductive health information is not merely a matter of choice but a fundamental right.
This proposal was brought to the floor of Parliament but met with strong opposition from Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, who described it as “devilish” and believed it would legitimise the defilement of young girls.
Nevertheless, Margaret Muhanga, the Primary Healthcare Minister, argued that the country had witnessed a significant rise in teenage pregnancies during the COVID-19 lockdown, making the need for accessible reproductive health information and contraceptives even more crucial.
Amidst this controversy, Uganda Christian University celebrated its graduation ceremony, conferring degrees upon 986 students in various disciplines.
Of these, 527 were female, 459 were male, and 33 achieved first-class degrees. At the doctoral level, five students were awarded their degrees.
In his address to the graduates, UCU Vice-Chancellor Dr. Aaron Mushengyezi encouraged them to value the knowledge and skills they had gained during their academic journey. He urged them to be agents of positive change in society, stressing their role in making the world a better place.
“We are entrusting you with the mission to go out into the world and effect positive change. Become the catalysts of transformation, rather than contributors to societal challenges. Strive to be the beacon that illuminates the world, aspiring to create a better living environment for all,” Dr. Mushengyezi noted.
The Retired Archbishop Rt. Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, Former Chancellor and Chief Guest at the graduation, called on parents to support their children in order to help them resist temptations such as corruption and bribery tendencies in the business world.
Orombi further underscored the importance of family support and affirmation in guiding young individuals toward ethical behaviour.
Bishop Alfred Olwa, the University Council Chairperson, also addressed the graduates, emphasising the importance of adhering to professional practices.
He stressed that true professionals prioritise service over self and go beyond their duty in the pursuit of their responsibilities.