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UGANDA: FGM Banned In Uganda, Other African Nations Ponder The Option

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION is under fire from international humanitarian organizations, the international community and the United Nations. Calls to ban the dangerous and painful practice, which serves no useful purpose, have intensified and Africa, a continent where the ritual is most predominant, has started responding.

Senegal and Burkina Faso were among the first African nations to announce that the practice will be banned in their countries. Recently, Uganda too announced that FGM has been banned. We bring you a Ugandan newspaper report in which the parliamentarian who tabled Prohibition Bill in the Ugandan Parliament is interviewed by journalist Madina Tebajjukira of the Ugandan SUNDAY VISION. His responses provide food for thought for countries still procrastinating about outrightly banning Bondo.

Parliament last week passed the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill, which was tabled by Kinkizi East MP Dr. Chris Baryomunsi. The law outlaws the practice which is mainly carried out in eastern Uganda among the Sabiny in Kapchorwa and Bukwo districts and the Pokot in Amudat District. Madinah Tebajjukira asked Dr. Baryomunsi about the law...

Q: Recently Parliament passed the Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Bill. It now awaits presidential assent to become an Act of Parliament. What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?
A: It is a procedure involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non medical or therapeutic reasons. It is an age-old tradition sometimes referred to as female circumcision or female genital cutting. It’s mainly done in the name of culture but it’s a practice which dehumanises women and clearly lowers their status in society. It has no benefit at all and it’s associated with many health risks.

Q What is its origin?
A It is not clearly known, but available literature traces FGM to have started in Egypt. It is suspected that Egyptian kings promoted the practice of circumcising Israeli women to make them infertile so as to reduce the population of the Israelites. This cruel practice moved across the countries because of migrations.
FGM which predates Christianity, Islam and other religions is also practised in the neighboring countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and northern DRC.

Currently, over 28 countries in Africa practise FGM. It is also practised in the Middle East and Asian countries. To the western world, the practice is carried out mainly by African and Asian migrants.

In Uganda, the practice is prevalent among the Pokot, Sabiny, Tepeth, Nubians and Somali women. It is believed that these ethnic communities that practise FGM moved southwards from around Egypt centuries ago, settled in the Abyssinian area moved to Kenya and some came to Uganda.

The Sabiny, Pokot and Tepeth are all Kalenjin and are ethnic cousins to the Masai of Kenya and Tanzania. The Tepeth live on the top of mountains Moroto and Nyapak and in Kaabong District, where they are called the Teuso.

It is also said that the Sabiny men used to go on hunting expeditions and they would live their wives at home for as long as two to three months. In order to stem the risk of women engaging in adultery and promiscuity, they started cutting their spouses’ clitoris in order to reduce the women’s sexual desire and libido. (...)

SOURCE: Europe News

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DATE: 05/01/2010

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