KAPCHORWA– Four more women were on Tuesday arrested and charged in relation to the outlawed Female Genital Mutilation.
Police in Sipi sub-region said the police and anti-FGM NGOs acting on a tip-off from members of the public busted the women in Ngangata after subjecting the girls to the ‘cut’.
“On Friday, we got information that there were nine girls who had undergone FGM in Bukwo, Police responded but we only managed to get two young women who had been circumcised and their mothers but the surgeons had fled,” said Me Rogers Tayitika, the Sipi region police spokesperson.
Mr Tayitika named the hotspot FGM crime areas as Tugumo, Ngangata, Kwoti, Benet, Kaptanya, Girik, Kwanyiny, Taritar, Kowoyon and Ngenge sub-counties in Sebei sub-region [Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts].
He explained that this brings to nine the number of arrests so far made this year but added quickly that in both of these cases the surgeons take off and abandon their victims adding that the suspects will be arraigned in court soon.
He revealed further that police is also holding two women and hunting for a surgeon after they were found being circumcised.
Mr Harrison Simiyu, a resident of Suam sub-county in Bukwo district says there are more cases happening in the villages but that Police does not go there.
“It’s true we have many FGM cases and many police are eluding police to do it in the bushes, Caves and across the borders at their relatives in Kenya,” said Mr Simiyu.
He added that the biggest challenge is education and sensitisation of the people about the dangers of FGM.
Mr. Tom Chesowel, RDC Bukwo says there is still an information gap within the residents and the leaders.
“People have failed to give us information even on the ground, some of these acts are done at night. They can even go and do it in Kenya at night, this district being on a borderline.”
Ms Beatrice Chelangat, the Director General of REACH an NGO that fights FGM in Sebei sub-region, said they have information to the level that there are many areas that are planning to circumcise girls and women this season
She revealed that in Kawoyon sub-county, seven girls were cut on Tuesday, in Kapsindle sub-County, in Kiring parish 11 were cut, in Taritar sub-county 18 were cut last night while this morning 18 girls were cut in Kaptanya sub-county in Kapchorwa district alone and another 8 have been cut in Riwo sub-county in Bukwo district.
Ms Chelangat said the girls who were subjected to the vice were still in pain and were taken to Kapchorwa hospital where tests were conducted and were confirmed that they had indeed undergone the rite.
“FGM is illegal and we shall never relent until it is drastically erased from Sebei sub-region [Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo] and there is huge hope that this illegal practice will end,” said Ms Chelangat.
She explained that collaborative efforts are needed across all sectors of society in Uganda to intensify efforts to end FGM.
Although criminalized since 2010, FGM is still almost universal in some communities in Sebei and Karamoja sub-regions and girls between the age of 13 to 18 are increasingly the most affected group.
Reports on ground indicate that although the 2010 FGM Act is supposed to criminalise those who perform FGM, lawyers and aid workers say the law is being implemented sparsely and – when police do arrests- they punish the wrong people.
Ms Chelangat says that the African proverb says that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ but it will take a whole country to end the practice of FGM because it is so deeply entrenched in cultural traditions and social norms.
Although a law passed in 2010 banning FGM in Uganda has helped to bring the number of incidents down, communities that continue to perform the rite do so secretly. Anti-FGM crusaders refer to such communities as hotspots.
Female circumcision often involves partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says there are about 200 million girls and women around the world who have gone through the cut. The consequences are both physical and psychological and can last a lifetime.