16 September 2009

Uganda: MPs Table Female Genital Mutilation Bill

Kampala — A Bill seeking to impose tough penalties for people involved in female genital mutilation (FMG) has been tabled in Parliament. The Private Members' Bill was yesterday tabled by Kinkiizi East MP Dr. Chris Baryomunsi (NRM).

If passed, a person found guilty of aggravated FMG will be liable to life imprisonment. FMG refers to the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-therapeutic reasons.

The practice is mainly carried out in Kapchorwa and Bukwo districts during the even year. Launching a campaign against the practice in Nakapiripirit district recently, President Yoweri Museveni described the practice as brutal and backward. "God knew what he was doing when he created us. Do you think you are more intelligent than God?"

According to the Bill, a person commits aggravated FMG in situations where death occurs as a result of the act or where the victim suffers disability or is infected with HIV/AIDS.

It also states that a person commits aggravated FMG where the offender is a parent, guardian or person having control over the victim or where the act is done by a health worker.

The Bill provides that a person who carries out FMG shall be liable to 10 years imprisonment. A person who carries out FMG on herself is also liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

Attempts to carry out FMG or supporting it are also crimes, each carrying five years imprisonment according to the Bill. "Consent of the victim to FMG is immaterial and shall not be a defence under this Act."

"A magistrate's court if satisfied that a girl or woman is likely to undergo FMG, upon application by any person, may issue a protection order," the Bill added. The Speaker, Edward Ssekandi, referred the Bill to the committee on gender, urging it to co-opt other members.

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