August 26, 2010
Uganda’s Constitutional Court on Thursday declared the practice of female circumcision also known as Female Genital Mutilation as unconstitutional, contending that it abuses the fundamental rights of women.
In a ruling that would have been declared as landmark one had the parliament of Uganda not passed a law banning FGM recently, the five justices of the Constitutional court agreed with the petitioners that the practice of FGM abuses fundamental rights of women and is against the laws of Uganda and several instruments on women’s rights that Uganda is signatory to.
The Constitutional Court justices led by the deputy Chief Justice Leticia Kikonyogo agreed with the petitioners that the practice is not in accordance with Uganda’s laws and the international treaties.
The Human Rights Advocacy for Women in Uganda, a local NGO petitioned the Constitutional Court in April 2007 seeking nullification orders against FGM which is a culture practice among the Sabiny of eastern Uganda and a few Karimojong. FGM is practiced as an initiation rite of girls into adulthood, but it has resulted in many pains and diseases for women who undergo the practice. In some countries like Mali and Tanzania, girls are circumcised as young as two years.
The petitioners actually argued that the practice has no medical benefits and only results in medical complications for women and girls who undergo the painful practice.
The Human Rights Advocacy for Women in Uganda also argued that FGM is done by unprofessional surgeons without anaesthesia which cases a lot of pain and increases the risk of HIV transmission due to use unsterilized instruments and untrained personnel.
The Member of Parliament for Kinkizi West, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi earlier this year succeeded in convincing the Parliament of Uganda to pass his anti FGM legislation which President Yoweri Museveni assented to and is already a law.