UGANDA: The Decision To Abandon FGM Has To Come From The Community
While the Government of Uganda should be applauded for passing legislation that bans female circumcision, the fact that girls are still undergoing the procedure demonstrates the need for responsive action.
So what can we do to achieve the total abandonment of FGM in Uganda?
We know that FGM functions as a social norm for those communities that still practice it, so it is difficult for any one family to abandon it on their own. To do so would risk the marriage eligibility of daughters as well as a loss of social status for the entire family.
We know the decision to abandon FGM has to come from the community as a whole so that all members will be more confident to abandon the practice.
We know from other countries that too much focus on persuading the “cutters” to stop the practice has proven ineffective.
Interventions must, therefore, concentrate more on addressing the need for communities — especially the elders and the girls — to say “no”. That way, girls who do not get cut will not be shunned.
Through dialogue, education and social change, we are witnessing more and more families standing by their daughters and not allowing them to be cut.
Many communities have also put in place an alternative rite to passage into womanhood — one in which the girls can celebrate with joy and hope for the future. The perseverance and determination of the elders of these communities should be commended. Their continued leadership is a must for this practice to be stamped out.
The voices against FGM are getting louder and louder, but we need to increase and intensify. This is a call to action for everyone to stand up and speak up for these young girls who are denied the choice of saying “no”.
FGM is nothing more than an act of brutality and a gross violation of basic human rights. The voices opposing it will only get louder until the practice of FGM is consigned to history.
This is a joint statement by Theophane Nikyema, the UN resident coordinator for Uganda and UNDP resident representative, Janet Jackson, UNFPA resident representative, Dr. Sharad Sapra, UNICEF representative, Birgit Gerstenberg, OHCHR representative, Dr. Joachim Saweka, WHO representative, Musa Bungudu UNAIDS country coordinator, Jebbeh Forster, UNIFEM representative and Kai Nielson, UNHCR representative.
SOURCE: New Vision Online
AUTHOR: Theophane Nikyema
URL: Click here