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The Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) has called for protection and fulfillment of the rights and choices of adolescent girls, key population and other vulnerable communities in the country.

Speaking during the national symposium on bodily Autonomy and Integrity, the Executive Director of UGANET Dora Kiconco said bodily Autonomy and Integrity is a key constitution right enshrined in Article 24 of the constitution Uganda.

Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) remains a big challenge particularly in relation to HIV prevention and access to safe abortion. According to reports over 4000 girls were impregnated during the covid-19 pandemic. The country criminalises sex with a child under the age of 18 however; Uganda is amongst the 20 countries with teenage pregnancy and defilement.

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According to Kiconco, UGANET in consortium with the Uganda Key Population Consortium (UKPC) and Uganda Network for young people living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) funding from the Aids and Rights Alliance For Southern Africa (ARASA) under the program ‘My body is not a democracy’, are supporting national advocacy on bodily Autonomy and integrity in the country.

Kiconco said they aimed at sensitizing individuals to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health needs without coercion, violence and intimidation.

“We stand with women and girls in all diversity, key populations in claiming these rights and choices throughout their lives. Fulfilling rights to bodily autonomy and integrity requires that stakeholders make quality sexual and reproductive health information services available and accessible.”

She said Ugandan leadership should swing in action to fight the shooting numbers defilement and unwanted pregnancies.

“MPs should angrily be responding by passing budgets for SRHR and making reforms to create lee way for safe abortion. We should deist from criminalize public health issues just like they did for HIV/Aids,” she said, “Adding that when putting up punishments for public health issues, this results into problems.”

Busongola North MP Kitanywa Sowedi urged Ugandans to stop discrimination in respective of their believes. “Thank you for identifying that there are some gaps in Ugandan laws. We respect every right of Ugandans so long as it doesn’t infringe on another’s rights. Suggest those reforms and I will forward them to parliament.”