UGANDA: We Need To Change People's Attitudes

ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation, about three million girls in Africa are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) annually.

Already 92 million girls aged 10 years and above are estimated to have undergone the practice. In Uganda, FGM is practised in Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts in the Sebei region.

FGM leads to several complications such as increased risk of complications during child birth.

But before we focus on the approach to eradicate FGM, it is imperative to appreciate the various reasons why it is practised in the first place. Some people believe that the clitoris and the labia are male parts, thus the removal of these parts enhances the femininity of a girl. Others believe that FGM reduces a female’s libido, thereby reducing their chances of having extra-marital affairs, hence stable marriages.

Some people also believe that an unmutilated female is unclean and should not handle food or water.

Others say unmutilated females are not fertile and, therefore, cannot conceive. Other people also believe that if a baby’s head or a man’s penis comes in contact with the clitoris, they will die. Other people believe that leaving a woman with a clitoris can lead to lesbianism.

For whatever reason, FGM is a cultural identity practice. The procedure is carried out to initiate a girl into womanhood. It is so ingrained into the cultures that practice it that they believe that banning FGM will lead to the demise of their culture. In order to curb the practice, we must eliminate the cultural belief that a girl will not become a woman and have all the benefits of womanhood without undergoing FGM.

All avenues must be explored in the fight against FGM to trigger massive awareness if we are to change people’s attitude.

Crowd-sourcing information on FGM by tracking voices of the poor girls who are shouting for our help and other members of society who support elimination of the practice is crucial.

The writer is a human rights activist

SOURCE: New Vision Online

AUTHOR: Anthony Masake

URL: Click here

DATE: 17/12/2010

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