STOP FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
The New Vision of 12th January 2009 bore an article titled “I make sure all the girl can think about is circumcision”. This was a statement by one of the so-called care takers who derives livelihood from FGM. One thing she is reported to have said is “When they promised heifers and scholarships to us and our girls who denounced FGM, but failed to deliver, we saw no need of stopping it. You cannot be given food without vegetables.” Another article titled, “500 girls mutilated over Christmas” This has compelled me to respond.
The World Health Organization estimates that between 100-140 Million women around the world “suffer” female genital mutilation and that every year 2 million girls aged between 2 and four years are at risk of “suffering” FGM. 28 Countries in Africa practice FGM including Uganda. The practice is condemned for causing shock, bleeding, pain, infection, infertility and death. Yet it continues to be traditionally treasured and patronized. The perpetrators fight tooth and nail to keep the practice alive with some in Uganda, demanding huge compensations if they are to stop doing it.
In Uganda, the tradition is deeply rooted among the Sabinys as is Male Circumcision among the Bagisu.
The question is, why has the practice persisted? It is a long unrelenting doctrine instilled from one’s childhood. It includes practical psychological indoctrination using horrific jolts like “if you don’t do it, the gods will kill you, you will never give birth, get married, and you will be cast out of the clan” to instill fear among the young ones and force them to develop enthusiasm bout the culture.
In Bugisu, the common jolt for male circumcision is that “you always be a boy and you can never seat among the circumcised” in fact the practice in Bugisu is not by choice, it is by force if you refuse to volunteer. The forceful circumcision of Mr. Mujoroto in Kampala last year is a good example. Interestingly for the Bagisu, even those who are forced to do it appreciate after it is done. Mujoroto for example, bragged that he had now become a man!
Poverty and lack of exposure for instance are the major hindrances to stopping FGM. The young girls have no access to current information through television, radio, newspapers and all the elderly women around them have all been circumcised and have a strong belief that their culture has no problem. So the girls are caught up in a web of pro-FGM women and men throughout their lives.
The demand for compensation to stop FGM by a sabiny woman recently shows that practice is a source of livelihood for her. Similarly, the fact this “maturiotet” could not stop the practice because she did not receive the promised heifers and scholarships for the girls who denounced the culture is an indicator that the practice can be put to an end.
Cubing FGM will need a Psycho-social approach which will take on unyielding indoctrination of the practicing tribes from childhood and sensitization of cultural leaders about the dangers of the practice and the advantages of the proposed alternatives. This should be accompanied with motivation packages as earlier promised e.g. giving them heifers and scholarships which will keep the perpetrators busy and distracted from the practice.
Let us unite against FGM and condemn this cruel act of violation of women's rights!
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