Child marriages in central Uganda: The lived experiences of women married as children in Kamira village, Kamira sub-county, Luweero District.
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Despite international and national laws on child marriage, marriage of girls below eighteen years of age is common worldwide and affects millions of girls. Child marriage is defined as any formal or informal union where one or two of the parties are below the age of eighteen. Child marriage is a human rights violation that prevents girls from obtaining education, enjoying optimal health bonding with others of the same age, maturing and ultimately choosing their own life partners. Child marriage is driven by poverty, financial problems among teenagers, cultural and religious beliefs to mention but a few. This study therefore sought to investigate the lived experiences of women who married as children in kamira sub-county, Luweero district. The study in particular focused on the circumstances that lead to child marriages, lived experiences of women who married as children as well as different ways through which community education and awareness campaigns help such women to cope. The issues were xplored by using a qualitative approach research instruments used to collect data were interview guides, Focus group discussions. Eight in-depth interviews were carried out with women who married as children. This was followed by sixteen key informant interviews with health workers, police officers, religious leaders and local leaders and two focus group discussions one with women who married as children. The findings of this study highlight the complexity of child marriages, the intertwined issues of gender, poverty, traditional beliefs and norms that deny young girls to fulfill their potential in life. Women who married as children described their marriage as forced, however, they quickly adapted to their new roles as wives. The findings stipulate that women who married as children experience severe poverty, polygamy, domestic and emotional violence. Therefore different education and awareness campaigns in the study area give these women free counselling, free antenatal services, financial literacy trainings and technical skills education. The study recommends the government to support NGOs in different communities with the aim of reducing child marriages and helping women who married as children. The government should also provide technical institutions in rural areas where women who married as children can acquire life skills for survival. However, providing them with starting capital to implement knowledge and skills acquired from technical trainings can also be helpful to them. The study recommends further research to be carried out on the same topic in different parts of Uganda for generalization of the findings.