The Minister of State for Gender, Labor and Social Development, Hon Peace Mutuuzo called on all school leaders and stakeholders to create an enabling environment for breastfeeding mothers to continue their education.
Addressing participants at the regional meeting on the response to sexual and gender-based violence held in Kampala on Thursday, Mutuuzo noted that it is regrettable that some schools have prevented pregnant or lactating women from continuing their studies “yet they do not have not been imbued with their will.”
“We cannot punish those who became pregnant at an early stage and leave the perpetrators, who are criminals, free. Pregnancy is not a crime or an illness, if schools do not have breastfeeding rooms, let them be set up like in Parliament,” the minister said.
She noted that while giving birth at an early stage is not good, the segregation of student mothers could force them to resort to dangerous practices like unsafe abortion.
While boarding schools are excused, Mutuuzo further insisted that day schools have no excuse to dismiss pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Dr. Janveire Ndirahisha, Regional Director of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) – RTF, urged all Member States to engage and ensure peace in their territories to reduce the number of cases of violence sexual and sexist which tend to increase in the event of instability.
“Before someone commits an act of sexual and gender-based violence, they must first put themselves in the shoes of a relative of the victim and imagine what would happen if it was their daughter or their wife who suffered a such a situation,” Ndirahisha added.
The Acting Commissioner of Police for Child Sexual Offenses, Nalubega Rose, has advised professionals who deal with victims of sexual and gender-based violence to ensure that they create an enabling environment for the victim to return freely and enjoy life in the community.
“People themselves don’t know the law, they are afraid to report to the police, some don’t want to comment on sexual issues in public while others are prohibited by their cultural beliefs,” Nalubega said.
The High-Level Regional Meeting on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response attracted participants from various parts of Africa and dignitaries from the European Union, Giz Germany cooperation, among others.