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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ugandan Women Flock to Kenya for FGM

December 2, 2010
New Vision
Daniel Edyegu

As the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act passed by Parliament makes the practice harder to carry out in Uganda, more Sabiny women are flocking to Kenya to get cut, an official has revealed. 

Lillian Plapan, the director of Setat Women’s Organisation, an anti-FGM civil society group in West Pokot district in Kenya, told the deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, that the female candidates seek the services of Kenyan surgeons, who secretly perform the ritual at night. 

“In Kenya, Sabiny girls are cut in maize plantations and kept there for four days to allow them to heal. Later, they cross back to Uganda for total recovery,” Plapan said. 

She also said on some occasions, the Sabiny hire Kenyan surgeons who cross to Uganda and carry out the ritual at night for fear of being arrested. This revelation was made during the 15th Culture Day celebrations held at Chemwania High School in Kween district on Tuesday. 

Under the FGM law, offenders face jail terms ranging from five to 10 years or life imprisonment. Except for the Children’s Act that bars offenders from inflicting harm on children below 18 years, Kenya does not have a law on FGM. 

The Kenyan women parliamentarians recently came up with an FGM Bill in order to foster the cross-border campaign against the ritual. 

The Kapchorwa district Police commander, Patrick Bingi, said though the FGM season in Sebei sub-region started yesterday, the Police had inadequate means of transport to patrol rural areas and implement the new law. 

James Kakooza, the primary healthcare state minister, said the World Health Organisation was concerned about the increase in the number of medical personnel carrying out the ritual in health units. He cautioned health practitioners in Uganda against carrying out the ritual. 

Barhane Ras-Work, a director of a civil anti-FGM organisation, said with the increasing campaign against the ritual, the days of FGM in Uganda were numbered. 

“FGM has no place in the contemporary world. When I see the partnership between government and the civil society, I realise we are getting there,” Ras-Work said. 

Kadaga said in June, the Ugandan Parliament passed a resolution to ban FGM, adding that the country signed the petition on the ban of the ritual in Africa last month. 

“When Parliament passed the law on FGM, our biggest worry was how quickly the Police would take to get acquainted with the new Act. Since Police have shown agility in responding to the new law, I urge parents and community leaders to unite in the fight against FGM,” she said.