July 30, 2011
Not very far from Kapchorwa town, 53-year-old Judith Yamangusho gently removes her beans from the pods. Looking at her sitting on a stool, it is easy to imagine that she is in good health. Not until you see her wheelchair just a few metres away do you realise that she is in fact paralysed. However, for all her aliments, she is still a lucky woman, for three of her sisters passed away due to the very cause of her condition. Before the break of dawn, when she was 20, Yamangusho and her sisters were taken to a bush a distance from their home in Tabakon village Kapteret Sub County in Kapchorwa district and circumcised. Uncomfortably, she narrated that the surgeon used the same knife to cut them, then stitched them with thorns and applied local medicine on their wounds. “Our legs were all tied up for days for the wounds to recover,” she said. Only this mother of six children survived the ordeal, her sisters died shortly after. Yamangusho bled a lot after the circumcision and later dropped out of school(primary seven) because of the pain. When she finally recovered, she got married and was seemingly leading a happy life until child birth. “After delivering my last born, I started experiencing back pains and after the back pain my waist got paralysed to date,” she narrated. Her husband Steven Nakitari remains supportive of his wife, having been enlightened about the evils of the practice by the different Non-governmental organisations trying to curb the female Genital mutilation in the Sebei community.
Yamangusho only wishes that the war against FGM was decades earlier. “I wouldn’t have accepted it had I known its negative effects. I was not forced. I accepted after my parents told me to go since that was what all families were doing,” she said. However, she does not blame her parents. “They could do nothing because they had culture at heart but when the inter African Committee Uganda (IACU) an NGO based in Kapchorwa and Reproductive, Educative and community health (REACH) started preaching against the practice and its effects, that is when our parents realised that the practice was not good, but they could not do much,” she said.
Yamangusho’s only prayer is that her community realises the dangers of the practice and stops. “They should look at the way I’m now. I didn’t want to be like this, but because of that kind of culture, I have been forced to be like this,” she said sadly.