OVER 80 PCT OF WOMEN IN UGANDA’S POKOT DISTRICT STILL UNDERGOING FGM

KAMPALA, More than six years since the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act (2010) was passed by the Ugandan Parliament, a new study indicates that the practice is still at a record high in the ritual-practising communities of Pokot District in the eastern Karamoja region of Uganda.

The report by the Uganda Women's Network, a non-governmental organiztion (NGO) here shows that more than 80 per cent of women and girls there undergo the procedure which has been criminalized by the FGM Act.

The nature of FGM practised by this community was described by the respondents as type III, which involves the removal of all of the external genitalia -- clitoris, inner lips (labia minora) and outer lips (labia majora).

The study, which was conducted in Amudat district, considered a hub of FGM, shows that the practice is informed by highly valued social practices which sees girls and women devising ways of beating the system by crossing over to neighbouring Kenya to undergo the ritual.

"While the socio-cultural symbolisms associated with the practice has been abandoned, the practice is now carried out in secret. In some cases, the procedure is conducted across the border in Kenya; making it difficult to apprehend the perpetrators," reads the report.

Based on a total of 200 respondents from two sub-counties, the findings reveal that girls and women undergo FGM because of the stigma and social exclusion which comes with not undergoing the practice.

According to the community, FGM is a form of cultural identity, rite of passage, the need to suppress women's sexual desire and enforce fidelity, promote hygiene, preparing girls for marriage, instilling pride and value among young girls.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK