UGANDA: Support MP's Move On Genital Mutilation

The decision by Kinkizi County East Member of Parliament, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, to present a private member's Bill seeking to abolish female genital mutilation (FGM) is laudable. It is, in fact, long overdue.

Several generations of Sabiny women have had to endure this inexplicable surgeon's knife, all in the name of perpetuating a culture whose rationale is difficult to comprehend. What good is in a culture that celebrates the maiming and traumatising of women?

Scientifically, there are no known benefits arising from this practice, which involves the cutting off of the clitoris, often using crude instruments.

In some cases, women who faced the knife are reported to have died due to excessive bleeding; others have been permanently maimed. Yet those who reject the knife are ostracized, if not banished.

Many victims of female genital mutilation have found difficulties during child delivery, and sex is said to be painful.

Yet this backward culture continues to be practised because the various governments of Uganda after independence have been reluctant to ban it, for fear of alienating the communities that adore it.

That is why no law has been enacted to protect the women all these years. Thus, if one was forcefully mutilated, she may not sue for damages because the culture gives the elders the right to do with the women's bodies as they please.

As if mutilating one's body is not bad enough, the practice is often championed by illiterate surgeons with little understanding of science and hygiene.

Sadly, educated leaders and politicians in the areas where FGM is prevalent know the dangers of this practice but either support it for suspect reasons or simply keep a blind eye.

Perhaps that is why the person spearheading this private member's Bill does not hail from any of the affected areas. Now is the time for Parliament and leaders from that region, and government, to support Dr. Baryomunsi's effort to bring an end to this despicable cultural practice. The women are better off without it.


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DATE: 13/01/2009

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