23 January 2019

Uganda: Police Arrest 19 for Aiding Female Circumcision

The Police in Kween District have arrested 19 people over allegations of aiding women and girls to undergo the illegal Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in various sub-counties.

FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of human rights of women and girls.

Athough it was outlawed in Uganda, it is still being practiced in some communities.

In Uganda, the Sebei sub-region districts of Kween, Bukwo and Kapchorwa have the highest number of girls who have undergone FGM.

The District Police Commander, Mr Denis Musinguzi, when contacted confirmed the arrests but declined to give more details.

"We have arrested 19 people and we are still hunting for the mutilators, who are currently on the run," he said.

The suspects, who were arrested during the operation on Monday night, are currently detained at Kween Central Police Station.

The Sipi Region police spokesperson, Mr Rogers Taitika, said among the arrested included rite mentors and dancers, mostly from the areas of Binyiny Town Council, Kwanyiny and Kaproron Sub-county.

Mr Taitika said police received reports that more than 11 women have been subjected to the cut since the start of January.

Daily Monitor, however, has learnt that while police was conducting the arrests on Monday night in Binyiny Town Council, it fired live bullets to disperse the angry residents, who were protesting the arrests.

But Mr Taitika did not confirm that but instead said as police, they deployed more police officers including the team of crime intelligence officers to investigate and also to curtail further incidents of FGM in the district.

He said they have opened a general inquiry file so that residents can provide information about the FGM incidents.

Ms Consulate Chemutai, the project coordinator of prevention plus project under Reproductive Health, Uganda, a non governmental organisation fighting FGM, said although they have tried to fight the practice to zero in Kapchorwa District, there are still overwhelming cases going on in the districts of Bukwo and Kween.

"There is more we need to do to end FGM especially in the remote villages, where people are still ignorant about the existing law against it," she said.

Mr George Kiprotich, the executive director Kapchorwa Civil Society Organisation Alliance, said government needs to join hands with NGOs to end the vice that exposes women to many side effects.

"The government should also come up with an alternative way to economically motivate the mutilators. Since the government banned the practice, they have become unemployed and yet this was their source of livelihood," he said.

Mr Denic Ephraim Balwaniregha, the Resident District Commissioner, Kween, said the district has strengthened security to curb the vice. He added that they have also started sensitising the people on the dangers of FGM.

"We have started a massive sensation on the disadvantages of FGM and so far, we have been in several sub-counties including Benet," he said.

However, Fred Soyekwo, a resident of Binyiny Town Council, said six women aged between 15 and 35 years and most of them married, were mutilated on Saturday morning. He says perpetrators are using an opportunity they get to circumcise their daughters or wives.

In November 2018, police in Kween District arrested five people for taking part in FGM.

About 120 to 140 million women worldwide have been subjected to FGM and three million girls are at risk each year, according to the World Health Organisation.

Government ban

The government banned FGM in 2010, punishing any person convicted of the practice up to 10 years in jail among other sentences.

This has, however, did not completely eliminated the vice, which is commonly practiced in Sebei sub-region.

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