Wednesday, November 11, 2009
November 9, 2009 By Daniel Edyegu The Sabiny girls from Sebei sub-region have said female genital mutilation (FGM) still thrives due to stigmatisation of uncircumcised girls. Students from Gamatui Girls Secondary School in Kapchorwa district told the parliamentary committee on gender, labour and social development on Sunday that voters threaten to deny uncircumcised females votes. "The electorate normally argue that she has violated the cultural norms. Often, the opponent who has undergone the ritual, capitalises on this," Bonita Chepkwemoi, a Senior Three student, said. Jane Cherop, a Senior Two student, said in the rural areas, elderly people frighten girls that they will fail to get men to marry them if they refuse to undergo the ritual. "Out of the fear of failure to get future partners, the girls succumb. Besides, the surgeons often administer herbs that make the victim unconscious before cutting them," Cherop said. Female genital mutilation involves partial or total removal of the external genitalia. In Uganda, the practice is mainly carried out among the Sabiny and the Pokot Karimojong. The parliamentary committee led by the chairperson, Beatrice Lagada (Oyam), was seeking the views of females on FGM Bill. The Bill, if passed, will criminalise FGM and punish the perpetrators. Lagada explained that a person who carries out FGM or does it on herself would be liable to 10-years of imprisonment. Lagada noted that in case of aggravated FGM, where the victim dies, contracts HIV or suffers disability and the perpetrator is a medical worker, parent or guardian, the culprit would be liable to life imprisonment. "A person who participates in any events like cultural dances leading to FGM is liable to five years of imprisonment. Any culture, custom, ritual, tradition or religion shall not be a defence under this Act," Lagada stated. She urged Sabiny girls to report any perpetrator to the Police.