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Police arrests five in crackdown on FGM in Kween district

The satellite photo showing distance and location of Kween district from Kampala. (PML SATELLITE PHOTO)

KWEEN- Police in Kween district have arrested at least five people for preparing to take part in Female Genital Mutilation (FMG).

The three girls got dancing and two surgeons [traditional circumcisors] are being held at Ngenge police station in Kween district.

The crackdown that comes after over 17 girls and women were reportedly circumcised in the sub-county at the beginning of this month.

Police identified the two traditional surgeons arrested as; Kokop Yapchemtai Hassan and Kokop Bukose Mica in Ngenge sub-county people but most of the cutters fled to the hills.

According to Ms Beatrice Chelangat, the Director General of Reproductive Education and Community Health (REACH), an advocacy NGO against FGM the three girls were arrested after they fermented and danced openly to undergo FGM.

Ms Chelangat says that although President Museveni signed the law prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) seven years ago, the practice still persists among the traditional Sabiny and Karimojong communities.

Reports on ground indicate that over 17 girls and women have so far been circumcised in Ngenge sub-county in Kween district in Sebei sub-region and that they are nursing their wounds in the hidden places away from police reach.

Ms Chelangat revealed that even as the government and non-governmental organisations step up efforts to rescue girls across Sebei and Karamoja sub-regions from the practice, parents and guardians are devising ways of ensuring that their girls are circumcised without incurring the wrath of the authorities.

“I want to say that this year alone more than 17 girls have been circumcised in Ngenge sub-county alone and this is being done with the consent of the parents even when they are aware that there is a law against FGM,” said Ms Chelangat.

Mr Rogers Tayitika, the Sebei sub-region police spokesperson confirmed three girls have been arrested but could not delve deep in details.

He said to avoid detection; parents are having their girls secretly circumcised, with those living near the international borders taking their girls to Kenya to undergo the rite but added quickly that police is on alert.

“It is hard to know when a girl has been circumcised nowadays. You will only know that they have undergone the cut after several weeks, when they have already healed but the girls we have arrested were dancing openly as though there was no law against the practice,” said Mr Tayitika.

FGM among the Sabiny [those who hail from Kween, Kapchorwa and Bukwo] is still widely seen as a prerequisite for marriage.

Mr Saul Chebet, the Kween district, a senior community development officer said that while there have been no recent studies on the FGM prevalence rate, there is evidence to show the numbers have reduced drastically after the law; Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2010.

He, however, added that a lot more work still needs to be done to eradicate the practice because FGM is a deep-rooted culture and you cannot wipe out a culture at once.

He revealed that in the FGM/C hotspots, female circumcision is no longer a ceremonial event held once every year and that it also takes place sporadically such as when a woman is giving birth.

Mr Chebet explained that November and December is the “season” for FGM because schools will have closed and the maize is high, fields are bushy, so people hide in the fields to do it.

RESEARCH

A 2015 Baseline Study on FGM found that 91% of the population now does not support FGM.

In Uganda, the practice is locally known as “wonsetap koruk” and is practiced in Northeastern Uganda among the Sabiny in Kapchorwa, Kween, Bukwo, and among the Tepeth, Pokot and Kadam communities in Karamoja region.

The LAW

A law passed in 2010 banning FGM in Uganda; Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2010.

Under the law any person who performs, promotes FGM through any means violates the human rights of a woman and as such commits an offence and shall upon conviction be liable, where no other penalty is provided in other laws of Uganda to imprisonment of up to five years, a fine or both.

Under the new law Female Genital Mutilation promoters and surgeons face five years imprisonment if convicted for carrying out the practice.

The perpetrators also face up to 10 years in prison. If the cut results in death, disability or infection with HIV/Aids, the punishment is life imprisonment.

Anyone who provides aid or takes part in the practice in any way is liable, upon conviction, to a prison term of up to five years.

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