5 February 2013

Uganda: Local Govt Urged to Fight Female Mutilation

As the day for the Feb 6 International Zero Tolerance for FGM day closes in, the minister of Gender and Cultural Affairs Hon Rukia Nakadama has called upon local government leaders to work hand in hand with the ministry in stopping the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM/C).

The minister who was addressing journalists about the up coming celebrations which will take place in Nakiloro village, Katikekile Sub County, Moroto district said it is important for the local councilors, local chairmen, the police and local government administrations to come together with the ministry and stop this deep rooted cultural vice.

She said that although the law which is called the Kapchorwa local government ordinance) was passed in 2010 it is sad that she has never heard of anyone being arrested for practicing FGM/C or a police report against someone who circumcised some one without their consent.

The minister said that in Uganda FGM/C is practiced by less than 1% of the total population; in Pokot and Sabiny 95% to 50% of women respectively are compelled to under go FGM/C.

The figure alone shows how many children and women's rights are being violated as well as their well being as far as reproductive health is concerned, she said.

The UNFPA, Country representative, Ms. Janet Jackson, says positive steps were made in 2012, but there is a lot still to be done. She cited an example in 2012 that over 51 communities in east and northeastern Uganda publically announced that they were abandoning FGM/C.

"We saw cutters surrender their knives to the authorities saying no more cutting, clan elders, religious leaders and even parents openly denounced FGM/C and protected their girls from being cut," Jackson said.

The minister also intimated that with their efforts in her last visit to Moroto over 200 girls declared that they will not allow to be circumcised and around 100 female elders gave up the knives used in circumcision.

There are 4 tribes which practice FGM in Uganda Sabiny, Pokot, Kadam and Tepeth in Sebei. The practice has also spilled over to other districts where the practicing tribes migrated to like Amudat, Nakapiripirit, Kampala (Somalis practice it in Kisenyi a zone in Kampala) and Moroto.

An estimated 120 to 140 million women world wide are subjected to FGM/C, with three million girls in Africa continue to be at risk each year.

Zero tolerance days against FGM/C have been observed in Africa since Feb 6, 2003 and National celebrations have been held since then.

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