UGANDA: Uganda Seeks To Criminalise FGM But It Must Do More Than Just Pass The Law

Seeking to make FGM illegal, Museveni wants to ban female circumcision and criminalize it.  Press Secretary Tamale Mirundi told CNN that those who continue to perform the practice could potentially face the death penalty if a girl dies as a result of the procedure. "If a girl dies during circumcision that would be murder," Mirundi said. "The punishment for murder in Uganda is death. You will be hanged."

This is a strong stride in the right direction but it’s just that- a stride- and is not enough. Although the BBC listed Uganda as one of the 14 African countries which had banned FGM as early as 2004, an article by IRIN in 2007 tells a different story:

“Beatrice Chelengat, programme manager of an FGM awareness campaign sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund in the eastern Kapchorwa district, said 647 women aged between 11 and 31 were subjected to FGM in 2002 out of an estimated 13,000 females in that age group. The figures for 2004 and 2006 were 595 and 426 respectively, she said, adding that anti-FGM campaigns in the area were bearing fruit.”   

What will separate Uganda from other African countries, such as Kenya and Tanzania that have already illegalised the cultural tradition, is whether or not they have the ability to enforce it.
Museveni has proposed to distribute money to the practitioners of FGM to subsidize the income, albeit meagre, they earned for the procedure.  

According to Mirundi in the same interview with CNN, the money could come in the form of a low-interest rate loan that would give them financial support until they find other work.

However, actions speak louder than words and it remains to be seen if, like so many laws in Uganda, it will ever be enforced. 

SOURCE: The Independent

AUTHOR: Molly Lister

URL: Click here

DATE: 20/07/2009

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