Drivers and consequences of child marriage among boys in Bugiri District Uganda: a case of Kitodha Village
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The practice of child marriage remains one of the most pressing issues in the world today. Much as child marriage disproportionately affects girls, several boys continue to marry before 18 years. This study aimed at investigating the drivers and consequences of child marriage among boys. The study adopted an exploratory research design and was purely qualitative. Data were collected from child grooms, religious and traditional leaders, parents to child grooms and LC1 leaders from Kitodha Village in Bugiri District. The study identified several social-cultural drivers of child marriage among boys. These include parental neglect, prestige to have children at a young age as well as the desire to have many children, traditional gender roles of women [girls], desire by a boy’s family to strengthen social ties for social and economic protection, parental influence and school dropout. Economically, boys get married because of financial independence. At an individual level, engagement in sexual intercourse, peer pressure, desire to get independent from parents, loneliness and lack of awareness about the dangers of child marriage drive boys into early unions. Institutionally, lack of legal protection and religious influence leads to child marriage among boys. The study also found that child marriage mainly has negative consequences for boys. Among these include physical and health consequences such as exposure to the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases, poverty, exposure to domestic violence, increases the burden on parents and family of the child groom, exposure to child labour, limited education attainment, stigma and rejection from family and community and lost childhoods. The study recommends targeted interventions to address the drivers of child marriage among boys in Uganda.