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Uganda: Married Women Circumcised with Husbands' Consent - NGO

Married Women Now Undergoing Circumcision

Kampala — Faced with the new law against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), traditionalists have now shifted to circumcising married women with the consent of their husbands.

Statistics released at the 2017 cultural day celebrations that focused on public health, reported that among more than 200 youth interviewed across Sebei sub-region (Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts), only 24 per cent of girls aged 10 to 14 have experienced some form of genital mutilation, while 76 per cent of women between 25 and 35 have undergone the procedure.

Speaking to Daily Monitor last week, the Reproductive Education and Community Health programme executive director, Ms Beatrice Chelangat, said although the practice of circumcising young girls is slowly declining in Sebei, the trend has changed to circumcising married women.

"And this is being done in houses with the knowledge of husbands, in the villages and in the bushes even across the borders to Kenya. Wives claim that they are visiting relatives in Kenya but cross with local surgeons," said Ms Chelangat.

The statistics reveal that uncircumcised married women are undergoing pressure from their husbands and society because they are not allowed to serve elders, get food from the granary and attend traditional meetings.

"The mothers-in-law abuse them, they are shunned," said Ms Chelangat.

While reading from the 2017 FGM survey in Sebei sub-region, she said REACH found that in spite of the ban, traditionalists are carrying out the practice unabated in the bushes, in the hills and in caves with most incidents happening in secret, sometimes unhygienic places - creating a big risk of infection.

Former Kapchorwa District chairman Nelson Chelimo urged NGOs involved in the fight against FGM to now target married people.

FGM source

Globally, it is estimated that 100 million to 140 million girls and women alive have undergone some form of female genital mutilation, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

Uganda: 100,000 Girls At Risk of Genital Mutilation - UNFPA Official

Kapchorwa — An estimated 100,000 girls in Sebei and Karamoja sub-regions are at risk of undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country has warned.

Mr Alain Sibenaler, the UNFPA country representative, said during a marathon at Kapchorwa Boma Grounds at the weekend that all stakeholders should join hands and end the vice that exposes women to many side effects of clitoris mutilation.

"We need to do more to secure the future and provide safety for more than 100,000 girls in Sebei and Karamoja whose lives are threatened by the possibility of FGM," Mr Sibenaler said.

Globally, the World Health organisation estimates that more than 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated"

Uganda banned FGM in 2009 punishing a person convicted of the practice up to 10 years in jail among other sentences.

This has, however, not completely eliminated the practice.

Mr Sibenaler noted that although achievements have been made in the fight against the deeply rooted cultural practice through sensitisation and access to education, a lot still wants to make the vice history.

"Even as we count our achievements, we need to reaffirm our commitment to go the extra mile to eradicate FGM completely by addressing the bottlenecks that predispose women and girls to this practice," he added.

The Archbishop of Church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, said since the inception of the anti-FGM marathon in 2015 as a community mobilisation tool, more than 15 communities have totally abandoned the practice in the three Sebei districts.

He said Sabiny elders should seek alternatives to FGM as a rite of passage but urged them to preserve other positive cultures.