A 16-year-old visually-impaired Ugandan schoolgirl with mental disorder has given birth to two children within 18 months of Covid-induced lockdown as schools remain closed.
The girl, whose names have been withheld because she is a minor, was at a special needs school in Jinja District.
The school supports children with visual and hearing impairments, and mental illness.
The minor’s 50-year-old mother on Wednesday said her daughter was sexually abused twice; first in 2020 and again early this year, and conceived on both occasions.
She said both babies are doing well, but that taking care of them is a big challenge.
“When she was in school, men had no access to her; but the pandemic has made her vulnerable,” she said.
The mother said given her daughter’s disability, she cannot tell who had sexually abused her.
She said no man has stepped up to claim any of the children’s paternity.
“I appeal to any good Samaritan to come to her rescue because I am a single mother and cannot look after the young children all by myself,” she said.
She said following the second incident, her daughter is now undergoing family planning for three years to avoid being sexually abused.
The head teacher of the school, confirmed that during the lockdown, many of his schoolgirls have been sexually abused by men since they are not in school, leaving parents, guardians and local leaders searching for answers to overcome the dire situation.
She said there are 273 special needs children with different disabilities ranging from visual and hearing impairments, mental disorders and other physical disabilities.
“Covid-19 has adversely affected our children with disabilities; before the pandemic, some of these children got sponsors who bought for them clothes, treated and fed them at school, which their parents had failed to provide. The situation is very sad,” she said.
The Jinja District inspector of schools, Mr Elias Kisambira, appealed to the government to re-open schools to prevent school-going girls from becoming mothers at a young age. He said when the little girls are in school, there are less chances of them being sexually abused.
The national director Special Olympics Uganda, Ms Genevieve Bamwidhukire, visited some of the children, and donated an assortment of items, including posho, sugar, rice, and soap. – Uganda Monitor □