KWEEN – The minister of state for gender has asked health workers across all hospitals and health centres to desist from carrying out female genital mutilation in their clinics.
Human rights activists said the doctors’ performing of “the cut” was making the harmful practice more acceptable in the local communities especially in Kween, Kapchorwa and Bukwo.
According to the local people although FGM/C is nationally considered a harmful practice and a criminal, it is increasingly being medicalised allegedly to reduce its negative health effects and is being carried out in hospitals.
Ms Peace Mutuzo, the state minister for gender and culture who represented speaker of Parliament Ms Rebecca Kadaga as the chief guest at the Sabiny annual cultural celebrations warned that medicalisation of FGM as harm reduction strategy in response to these perceived health risks should stop and that those involved risk arrest.
Ms Mutuzo who was addressing the annual Sabiny culture day held at Chepsukunya primary school on 30 November in Kween district said there was nothing safe in FGM/C, everything is bad because it has long term health effects.
She revealed that FGM/C is a violation of the human rights of the girls with lifelong consequences, no matter who performs it and asked the TBA’s to also stop it or face arrest and imprisonment.
Ms Mutuzo was however, displeased that whereas Kapchorwa and Bukwo districts have registered progress in the fight against FGM, Kween is still lagging behind.
“I was told that in December 2018 and January of 2019 many women and girls were circumcised in Kween, we must end this for once because it is criminal,” Mutuzo said.
She revealed that they parliament has formed an FGM/C network across all the countries that practice FGM/C to monitor and end cross border FGM/C by 2022.
“We started in Wagadugu [Burkina Faso], Nairobi [Kenya] and Dar-salaam [Tanzania], so we are determined to end cross border FGM/C as leaders in Africa, everyone is ready to end this outdated practice,” said Ms Mutuzo.
Ms Mutuzo promised to follow up an earlier pledges made by President Yoweri Museveni, to construct schools for girls who abandon FGM in Sebei sub-region.
Ms Beatrice Chelangat, the director general of the Reproductive Education and Community Health programme, an NGO that is involved in the fight against FGM/C said after taking on the grandmother approach in the fight against FGM, they are now determined to end FGM/C in Sebei sub-region by 2030.
She revealed that the grandmothers’ approach looks at the cross/inter-generation communication with an aim of changing behaviors among the people.
In Uganda, REACH adopted the approach from Senegal where it was first introduced in the fight against FGM/C in 2009 and that a concept to localise it was developed and piloted in 2012 and in 2013, the pilot was undertaken with REACH in Amudat and Nakapiripirit districts that it is now being used in Sebei sub-region.
She says in this approach a group of grand mothers who act as role models are trained and sensitised on the subject matter and thereafter encouraged to pass on the same messages to their grandchildren with the confidence that the grandmothers/elders in the communities are influential and champions.
“The idea is that the grandmothers’ sons listen to them and they in a way possess a lot of influence on who their sons marry in addition to undertaking interactions with their daughters-in-law so this information could be passed on even the girls,” said Ms Chelangat.
Mr Paul Machinjachi, the LCV chairman for Kween said all local council and religious leaders in Kween district have spoken with one voice, strongly condemning FGM/C with a pledge to accelerate action and ensure the practice is eliminated in Uganda.
“We have resolved that we are going to retain all the cultural celebrations surrounding a girl’s transition to womanhood but without the cut and early marriage and that we will offer alternative rite of passage training that sensitises local communities on the dangers of FGM, building consensus toward a collective decision to abandon it,” said Mr Machinjachi..
Cutting or excision of young girls’ genitals is seen as a cultural or religious rite of passage in Sebei sub-region and the culture has persisted over a long period of time. The vaginal opening is sewn up after the excision, leaving a small opening for sexual intercourse, childbirth and natural bodily functions.
It is reported that girls, sometimes as young as four or five years, undergo FGM in 28 African countries, as well as parts of the Middle East, India, Indonesia and in Diaspora populations in Europe and North America.
Key facts about Female Genital Mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes;
– Procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
-Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
-More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated (1).
-FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.
-FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.