FGM in Uganda: illegal by law, but ‘legal’ by culture

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a practice that involves partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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Elderly former Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) surgeons dance around a young girl during a mock ceremony that represents a cutting ceremony at Katabok hills in Amudat district, located 410km northeast of Uganda. In 2015, a total of 193 UN member states resolved to end FGM by 2030 during the UN Sustainable Development. FGM is still actively being practiced in some eastern and northeastern districts of Uganda- among those; Kapchorwa, Sebei, Bukwo and Nakapiripirit. Although Uganda outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in 2010, the practice continues to be practiced, although dangerously underground for fear of prosecution. In the border districts, many girls today cross over to Kenya to get cut before returning to Uganda.

In some African countries, this cultural practice is carried out mostly as a rite of passage to adulthood.

FGM Uganda

Elderly former Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) surgeon walks a girl into the cave in what would have been her final step before being cut during a mock ceremony that represents a cutting ceremony at Katabok hills in Amudat district, located 410km northeast of Uganda. In 2015, a total of 193 UN member states resolved to end FGM by 2030 during the UN Sustainable Development. FGM is still actively being practiced in some eastern and northeastern districts of Uganda- among those; Kapchorwa, Sebei, Bukwo and Nakapiripirit. Although Uganda outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in 2010, the practice continues to be practiced, although dangerously underground for fear of prosecution. In the border districts, many girls today cross over to Kenya to get cut before returning to Uganda.

In Sebei and Karamoja regions, located in eastern and northeastern Uganda, the Sabiny and Pokot tribes that initially practiced* Female Genital Mutilation believed that it was the only way of preparing a woman for marriage.

FGM Uganda

A string of elderly women who are former FGM surgeons walk away from the spiritual caves that used to be hiding places where young girls would be cut. The women, now reformed say, they changed their minds through a series of education and the enactment of the law against FGM in 2010. Today, they play the role of change agents by going around other communities that still illegally practice FGM to discourage them from the cruel cultural practice. n 2015, a total of 193 UN member states resolved to end FGM by 2030 during the UN Sustainable Development. FGM is still actively being practiced in some eastern and northeastern districts of Uganda- among those; Kapchorwa, Sebei, Bukwo and Nakapiripirit. Although Uganda outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in 2010, the practice continues to be practiced, although dangerously underground for fear of prosecution. In the border districts, many girls today cross over to Kenya to get cut before returning to Uganda.

Once a young girl (as young as 5yrs) underwent the ritual, she would be considered clean and mature enough to be married off. They believed the process did reduce a woman’s libido, thus minimizing chances of promiscuity.

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Rebecca Chepekarial, displays scars she got on her back as a result of the Female Genital Mutilation initiation ceremony in Amudat district, located 410km northeast of Uganda. Rebecca, a victim of FGM and a former cutter says that, one had to endure a lot of painful initiation ceremonies on the body as a mark of courage before the actual FGM is conducted. In 2015, a total of 193 UN member states resolved to end FGM by 2030 during the UN Sustainable Development. FGM is still actively being practiced in some eastern and northeastern districts of Uganda- among those; Kapchorwa, Sebei, Bukwo and Nakapiripirit. Although Uganda outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in 2010, the practice continues to be practiced, although dangerously underground for fear of prosecution. In the border districts, many girls today cross over to Kenya to get cut before returning to Uganda.

Today, Female Genital Mutilation is illegal in Uganda. In 2010, Uganda passed a law prohibiting the practice, with offenders liable to face considerable jail time of up to 5 years.

FGM Uganda

A string of elderly men, play the spiritual role during a mock ceremony to represent the processof Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at Katabok hills in Amudat district, located 410km northeast of Uganda. To appease the gods, they would slaughter a goat to render blessings to the girls who were destined for FGM. In 2015, a total of 193 UN member states resolved to end FGM by 2030 during the UN Sustainable Development. FGM is still actively being practiced in some eastern and northeastern districts of Uganda- among those; Kapchorwa, Sebei, Bukwo and Nakapiripirit. Although Uganda outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in 2010, the practice continues to be practiced, although dangerously underground for fear of prosecution. In the border districts, many girls today cross over to Kenya to get cut before returning to Uganda.

Criminalization of the practice has given room to an underground pricy and dangerous  racket that operates in absolute secrecy.

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A man walks through a narrow enclave leading to caves that were formerly used to conduct Female Genital Mutilation in Katabok village, Amudat district. UNFPA has played a crucial role since 1989 in advocating for end of FGM in northeastern Uganda. In 2015, a total of 193 UN member states resolved to end FGM by 2030 during the UN Sustainable Development. FGM is still actively being practiced in some eastern and northeastern districts of Uganda- among those; Kapchorwa, Sebei, Bukwo and Nakapiripirit. Although Uganda outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in 2010, the practice continues to be practiced, although dangerously underground for fear of prosecution. In the border districts, many girls today cross over to Kenya to get cut before returning to Uganda.

Although Kenya passed a similar law in 2014, banning Female Genital Mutilation, many Ugandans still cross the porous border under the cover of darkness to be cut and only to return when it is done.

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A makeshift border crossing point between Uganda and Kenya in Amudat district. Since Uganda outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in 2010, the practice continues to be practiced, although dangerously underground for fear of prosecution. Many teenage girls are sneaked into Kenya, taking advantage of the porous borders to be cut and are later returned to Uganda. In 2015, a total of 193 UN member states resolved to end FGM by 2030 during the UN Sustainable Development. FGM is still actively being practiced in some eastern and northeastern districts of Uganda- among those; Kapchorwa, Sebei, Bukwo and Nakapiripirit.

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.

FGM Uganda

Religion is playing a central role in educating and changing attitudes of communities that still practice FGM. A youthful choir group sing songs against the practice of FGM in Katabok village, in Amudat, located 410km northwest of Kampala, Uganda. In 2015, a total of 193 UN member states resolved to end FGM by 2030 during the UN Sustainable Development. FGM is still actively being practiced in some eastern and northeastern districts of Uganda- among those; Kapchorwa, Sebei, Bukwo and Nakapiripirit. Although Uganda outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in 2010, the practice continues to be practiced, although dangerously underground for fear of prosecution. In the border districts, many girls today cross over to Kenya to get cut before returning to Uganda.

 

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A mother walks her baby strapped to her back at a border trading center between Uganda and Kenya in Amudat district, located 410km northeast of Uganda. The district is one of the hotspots for cross border FGM practice as strict regulations in Uganda have forced many girls to cross to Kenya to illegally to get cut. In 2015, a total of 193 UN member states resolved to end FGM by 2030 during the UN Sustainable Development. FGM is still actively being practiced in some eastern and northeastern districts of Uganda- among those; Kapchorwa, Sebei, Bukwo and Nakapiripirit. Although Uganda outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in 2010, the practice continues to be practiced, although dangerously underground for fear of prosecution. In the border districts, many girls today cross over to Kenya to get cut before returning to Uganda.

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Some of over a dozen girls running away from forced FGM and marriage and are currently being hosted at Kalas Girls primary School, a Christian establishment that provides refuge to these teenage girls, walk to an evening church service in Amudat district. Young Girls remain the most vulnerable group to the now outlawed practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Uganda. A recent report (2017) from the Uganda government indicates that parents play the most crucial role in forcing teenage girls into getting circumcised for the purpose of marrying them off for riches.

 

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One thought on “FGM in Uganda: illegal by law, but ‘legal’ by culture

  1. Well it is a bad act but since it is a traditional norm then it will be hard to stop it, my question would be those who practiced it did they die? what is the negative impact to their health?? i think they are protecting their culture. if those who practice it die?? then the practice should be immediately stopped

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