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Friday, February 4, 2011

UN agencies join hands to fight FGM

February 3, 2011
New Vision
Brenda Asiimwe

TWO United Nations (UN) agencies have pledged to enhance support towards fighting female genital mutilation (FGM) in Uganda.

Describing the act as violent and brutal, the International Education Fund (UNICEF) and Population Fund (UNFPA) vowed to see that the practice is eradicated.

The agencies said they have so far injected US$487,000 in the on going campaign against FGM in selected districts in eastern and north-eastern Uganda.

“FGM is a violent act that can cause permanent damage both physically and emotionally,” the agencies said in a joint press statement.

Female genital mutilation comprises the cutting of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcission surgeons.

The practice is common among the Sabiny, Pokot, and Tepeth communities; they believe it is an essential rite of passage that will enhance a girl’s chastity and chances of marriage.

Young girls are cut with crude knives in open and unsanitary conditions.

The cutting may result into prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility and complications during childbirth.

Government in 2009 passed a law banning female genital mutilation.

Convicted offenders face 10 years in prison, but if the girl dies during the act, those involved will get a life sentence, according to the law.

Theophane Nikyema, the UNDP resident representative, applauded the Government for passing the law, saying it had demonstrated commitment to eliminate the vice.

Last year, UNFPA and UNICEF helped to create a simpler version of the law that has been disseminated to 34 sub-counties where FGM was highly practiced.

The agencies also trained 500 local law enforcement officials, an intervention that saw genital cutters and parents arrested.

Janet Jackson, UNFPA representative in uganda, said that their focus for this year is creating social change through community dialogue and education.