KAPCHORWA – The Reach programme has started empowering the local government leaders to monitor the girl-child in all villages where Female Genital Mutilation takes place to ensure they are not cut.
“We want you to monitor all homes and register the number of girls in the homes to ensure that they are not taken anywhere for FGM,” said the Director-General of f the REACH project Ms Beatrice Chelangat has said.
The Reproductive Education and Community Health [REACH], is an NGO that is involved in the fight against FGM under a new project supported by UNRA and funded by AFDB.
A stakeholder engagement meeting held at Kapchorwa on 2 December resolved that in bid to end the harrowing stories from young girls resolved to initiate the participation of all Sabiny irrespective of sex, educational background and age in a wide range of civic education programmes through face-to-face meetings at their homes, drama, and songs to end FGM/GBV.
The stakeholder engagement plan derives from findings of a recently concluded baseline study conducted by the REACH PROGRAM. The baseline study was an initial activity for a project entitled, “Undertaking Awareness Creation on the Dangers of Female Genital Mutilation and Gender-Based Violence on Kapchorwa-Suam Road Project Area” sponsored by the Uganda National Roads Authority. This Plan is composed of the following sections: project background, the rationale for engaging stakeholders, objectives of the stakeholder engagement, methods of engaging stakeholders, and targeted stakeholders.
The RPC Sebei sub-region Mr Moses Ochieng Sule while addressing the stakeholders engagement meeting in Kapchorwa on 2 December said FGM has now been classified as a cross border crime because the perpetrators now cross into Kenya and perform it in No- man’s-land and cross back to Uganda.
“We are determined to support the REACH programme to end FGM and also end GBV which is so high in Sebei sub-region,” said Mr Ochieng
Mr Ochieng ordered local authorities in Sebei sub-region [Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts] to identify the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) cutters, commonly known as surgeons, and hand them over to the police for prosecution.
He explained that the surgeons are partly responsible for the resumption of the banned practice and urged police to get these give them an opportunity by training so that they are rehabilitated to abandon the practice.
Ms Cheptoyek, the district Probation officer said besides the psychological pain, shock and the use of physical force b y those performing the procedure, women/girls also experience painful urination brought about by the obstruction of the urethra and recurrent urinary tract infections.
Ms Tina Cheptoyek revealed that women/girls also go through painful menstruation, irregular menses and difficulty in passing menstrual blood of the development of a scar in their private parts after FGM.
“It is essential we modernize, such that our culture is not left behind and education is the answer because the more literate and educated we are, the more this practice will die out. Let us take our children to school, let us bring them up in the fear of God.” Ms Cheptoyek
Ms Peter Kamuron, an elder, who participated in the local bye-law that passed compulsory FGM for all girls in Sebei sub-region in the 1990s revealed that FGM consequences are appalling and that along with an education and childhood cut short, girls suffer a traumatic initiation into sexual relationship that puts them at risk of domestic violence [GBV].
He explained that although the ritual to marks a girl’s passage into womanhood is culturally valid, “genital cutting”, is inhuman and must be stopped.
Mr Kamuron who doubles as the REACH programme Board vice chairperson said the under the new project of creating awareness on FGM and GBV, the Reach Programme is pointing out many harmful effects of genital cutting which include excessive bleeding, urine retention or incontinence, infections, the risk of HIV from dirty blades and the formation of scar tissue which can make birth difficult or even impossible.
He revealed in addition that there is also the severe debilitating pain and psychological trauma and that even clinical argument are hard to stand up in an environment in which people believe that an uncircumcised woman is not fit to gather grain from a granary, let alone be married..
Ms Chelangat says although there are positive results in implementation of the law that prohibits FGM [2010 FGM Act], the practice still persists in less educated homes, in the bushes, caves, isolated places and across the borders in Kenya through porous border points.
She said among the salient issues cited as effects of female circumcision are mounting medical evidence is that; FGM poses a serious threat to the health of women and girls, increasing vulnerability to HIV, raising the risk of maternal and infant mortality and harming psychological, sexual and reproductive health, severe pain, hemorrhage, tetanus infections, cysts and urinary inconvenience.
“We have the strategic plan for 2020- 2026 on how to end FGM by 2026 and since we started implementing it here, we are seeing a lot of light at the end of the tunnel and we believe that by 2026, FGM and GBV will be no more. We also want local leaders to monitor girls at risk of FGM,” said Ms Chelangat.
The Baseline survey carried out by the REACH programme early this year under the theme “undertaking Awareness Creation on the Dangers of FGM and GBV on Kapchorwa-Suam Road Project Area has named Tugumo, Kwot, Benet, Kaptanya, Girik, Kwanyiny, Riwo and Ngenge as the hot spot areas where the culture of FGM is still persisting due to low levels of Education for girl-child.
Dr Arapkisa Yeko, the reproductive health specialist at the REACH programme said the prohibition of FGM Act, 2010 that provides for prosecution and punishment of offenders and protection of victims should be translated into local languages [Kupsabiny] for local understanding of the law and easy implementation.
The REACH programme would then use the printed out messages, lessons from various victims, plays and songs to emphasise that girls and women have rights and that it is up to them to decide the right cultures that can help them get into adulthood.
Ms Winnie Chebet Mastula, the deputy mayor Kapchorwa municipality said FGM/C is highly concentrated in many low-income and middle-income communities and that improving the status of the communities with income-generating projects will see an end the practice.
She revealed that during awareness lessons on GBV and FGM, efforts should be made to make the practice be viewed as child abuse and a gross violation of children’s and women’s human rights, and is deemed unlawful by many countries and condemned by many organisations.
Ms. Everlyn Chebet Kibariki, the Kapchorwa LCV chairperson said although the declaration of Human Rights says no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, many of the communities who practice FGM and promote GBV don’t know this.
“And that is why they force girls into FGM, that is why women are beaten on a daily basis, your target and for everyone should be to bring these rights down to these people in local languages, teach them children’s rights, women rights, the law against FGM and make more people aware of the law against FGM as one of the means of fighting it,” said Ms Chebet who doubles as the Vice-chairperson for all LCV chairpersons at national level.
She pledged to support the REACH programme in all ways to ensure that FGM/GBV are fought from Sebei sub-region to give women the rights they deserve.