AT least 11 girl students were impregnated in Ngara District during the Covid-19 pandemic, a situation that has alarmed Kagera leaders.
Ngara District Commissioner Lt-Col Michael Mtenjele said the government paid attention to an upward trend of school pregnancy and would take legal action against the culprits.
He appealed to Ngara residents to collaborate and fight against outdated customs and practices that oppressed women and infringed on women's constitutional rights.
"We must come together to reach a consensus which will help keep women and girls safe and free from discrimination and gender-based violence, which remains a major health and human rights concern and no human development can be achieved if women and girls continue experiencing gender-based violence or living in fear," he said.
Mr Mtenjele explained that so far four suspects had been arraigned in connection with schoolgirl pregnancy and the police were hunting for seven other people who had fled.
However, he named those arraigned as Emil Kapera (21), Joseph Josephat (22), Oscar Ntabaliyo (25) and Zakayo Brighton (23).
Speaking on the prevalence of the problem, Mr Mtenjele said millions of women and girls were subjected to all forms of violence, including rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and sexual violence, adding that all these forms of sexual abuse left victims in prolonged psychological pain.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is directed towards the gender of a person.
It constitutes a violation of the fundamental right to life, liberty, security, dignity, equality between women and men, non-discrimination and physical and mental integrity.
It includes domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, sexual violence during conflict and harmful customary or traditional practices such as FGM and forced marriage.
The introduction of ward secondary schools that made some students hire a room far from home has also been cited as one of the reasons for increasing irresponsible sexual activities among students.
The high rate of schoolgirl pregnancy is not only due to economic and lack of sex education on human sexuality, but also due to other social factors that affect the daily life of teenagers.
Schoolgirl pregnancy is due to unprotected and early sexual intercourse which also exposes teenagers to other risks of contacting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV/Aids.
The prevention of teenagers from sexual intercourse at early stages is a crucial intervention.
Sex education on human sexuality, its impact and use of contraceptives should be provided to primary schoolchildren.
Programmes that target changing schoolchildren's attitude and behaviour among the youth should be encouraged.