In Lango sub region, particularly Amolatar and Oyam districts, a boy or man who impregnates a girl is required to pay a fine as a punishment. This payment is called ‘Luk’ and is given in form of one cow, two goats, two chickens, two spears. A transport refund fee ranging from 50,000/= to 150,000/= is an additional stipend given to the parents of the girl when they pick their ‘Luk’. Many times, the boy’s parents cannot afford the transport thus give a goat to cater for the transport refund to the parents of the girl who pick the Luk.
Victims of child pregnancies are usually asked to mention the names of their lovers, whose parents are approached to confirm the accusation. Once a boy accepts the asertion, Luk negotiations between the girl’s and boy’s family begin. At the center of such undertakings are the parents of the boy, the girl’s as well as clan heads to oversee the transaction.
Where the couple is in love, there is no payment of ‘Luk’. However, it is on rare occasions to find the boy accepting such a huge responsibility. In most cases the boys will run away from the villages with hopes of finding employment in Kampala or the nearby Islands. The girl in this case faces a penalty of rejection and in record cases is chased away from her parents’ home for bringing shame to the family. Very few families, especially fathers, have come to accept the slipups of their children as mere mistakes, and or provided support throughout the circumstances. Most child mothers in Oyam and Amolator seek hostage with their aged grandparents as they try to forge a way forward and fend for their lives.
Akello Sharon, 17 is one of such victims. Upon the birth of her beautiful twin girls, Acen and Apio, Sharon’s life took a new thorny path.
Prior to the pregnancy, Sharon attended Otike Primary school in Etam Sub County, where she sat for her P.7 last. She dreamt of being a big and respected lady one day in life. She stayed with her mother, who on learning of her child’s ‘misfortune,’ right away demanded for the details of the ‘man’ responsible for the pregnancy. She pressed for payment of ‘Luk’. To her dismay, the little boy, almost Sharon’s age, could not afford the requirement, a reply that earned Sharon disownership.
Sharon currently lives with her ailing 90 year old paternal grandmother in Abwocor village. She sells cassava flour in the market. Sharon at 17, a mother to twin girls is the sole bread winner for the family. She dreams of going back to school after her twins are weaned off, however, she earns not even enough to afford the essentials for the children and the small family she manages. She cultivates on a piece of land given to her by her grandmother.
ACFODE identified Sharon as a beneficiary for the Social Enterprise training this year and she has been trained on making profits out of social problems. With the knowledge gained, Sharon has embarked on improving her cassava flour business by making nutritious porridge for babies.
Where the parents do not insist on Luk, the girls have been supported to go back to school. Luk as a tradition is promoting early marriages. Worst of all, parents in Lango sub region look at their girls as a source of wealth.
When asked why they ask for ‘Luk’ instead of looking after their girls and ensuring that they resume school, most parents said that they did not see any use taking a girl back to school. They would rather be compensated with ‘Luk’ and see them off into another family
Human Rights Department