18 October 2012

Uganda: Elders Want Action Against Female Mutilation

In a strange turn of events, Sabiny elders are calling for intensive efforts to ban female genital mutilation (FGM).

The elders, who remained adamant even after even after President Museveni passed the FGM bill into law in 2010, now say they want extensive sensitisation especially for the illiterate. The Chairman of the Sabiny Cultural Union, George William Cheborion, says ignorance fuels the practice.

"We feel the elders should make their declaration...because it is not good for the girls' health," Cheborion said.

The Sabiny elder was speaking at a meeting to find ways of ending FGM in Sebei sub-region. Cheborion also called for speedy implementation of the law against FGM to deter surgeons and parents who still embrace the practice and are already circumcising young girls in the dark of the night.

This follows reports that several girls in Sebei sub-region have been mutilated and preparations are underway for a circumcision ritual in Bukwo and Kween districts that could see as many as 100 girls undergo the cut. Another elder Felistus Kures says eradicating FGM remains a challenge because of influential women who underwent the cut and somehow made it in life.

"Young girls are confused, NGOs want sensitisation and parents say they will not stand in the way of culture," she said.

The Bukwo population officer and researcher Simon Alere says Sebei culture attaches a lot of value to FGM with those who avoid the cut are often marginalised. "For instance, uncircumcised women are not allowed to collect food from granaries or to enter the cattle kraal to scoop dung to paste their house floors. When they marry, their husbands are reluctant to show them off," he said.

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