Kapchorwa Grade One Magistrate Paul Okedi should be defended to pass more deterrent sentences against abettors of female genital mutilation (FGM). And the residents threatening him should be exposed and arrested. The troublemakers should know Mr Okedi acted within the law of Anti-FGM Act 2010. The four-year jail terms he imposed are even six years short for performers and three short for abettors of FGM.
This crime, which partially or totally removes the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons, is meting violence against women. This injurious practice is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. Worse, this is forced upon girls, especially minors, and violates the rights of children. Besides, this violent conscription to a social norm of sexual restraint, femininity, and so-called respectability and maturity, violates the rights of women and girls. And this is unacceptable under Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines everyone’s rights and freedoms irrespective of sex, social origin, or other status. Also Article 5 prohibits anyone being subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment such as FGM.
Although this evil practice is not so pronounced in Uganda, it should be stamped out. It is not only injurious to the female genital organs but also dangerous to women’s health. Even FGM’s lowly prevalence in girls and women between 15-49 years at only 1.4 per cent, according to the Demographic Health Survey, 2011, is still disastrous for the women and girls subjected to its pangs. As a WHO-led study among 28,000 pregnant women in six African countries found, women and girls who have undergone FGM had higher risk of health consequences. In both the immediate and long-term women and girls suffer severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, difficulty in passing urine, infections, and poor quality of sex life, and infertility. Even worse increased risk of cervical cancer and in some cases even death.
So the politicians who have been educated about these grave consequences of FGM should know better rather than fight the magistrate. They should support Mr Okedi stop FGM because it is dangerous to women’s health.
Nonetheless, their opposition should not be allowed to spill women’s and young-girls’ blood and destroy their rights to a happy womanhood. This means outreach educators as Reproductive, Educative and Community Health Programme (REACH) step up campaign to stop the dangers FGM poses to the lives of women and girls. And magistrate Okedi should hand down more deterrent sentences to force cutters surrender their knives to the authorities.
Only then can women and girls be saved from the dangers of FGM and lead a full and satisfying womanhood.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor