Uganda will tomorrow Thursday 6th February 2020 join the rest of the world tomorrow to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
The purpose of the commemoration is to raise awareness among all Ugandans about the dangers of this practice and to advocate for its total elimination. Female Genital Mutilation is the total or partial removal or mutilation of external female genitalia for non medical reasons. Types of FGM practiced in Uganda include; Type I. (clitoridectomy) and Type 2-excision) both practiced by the Sabiny, Type 3 (infibulation or pharaonic) is practiced by the Pokot and Type 4 includes other types- Mainly Genital elongation practiced by Bantu e.g. Baganda.
According to the State Minister for Gender and Culture Affairs Peace Mutuuzo, the effects of Type 4 (pulling and others) include lesbianism, commercialization of the exercise through hiring special women to pull the girls/women, premarital/child sex and early marriage.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Unleashing Youth Power”, One decade of accelerating actions for zero Female Genital Mutilation by 2030.
Globally, it is estimated that approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women have undergone some form of Genital Mutilation or cutting. The practice is prevalent in 28 countries in Africa and some countries in Asia and the Middle East.
According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS 2016), the national prevalence of FGM among girls and women aged 15 - 49 is 0.3 percent. However an FGM specific survey (UBOS 2017) in the 6 FGM practicing districts revealed an average prevalence of 27 percent with Moroto having the highest prevalence of 53 percent.
Prevalence is highest among women aged 45 years and above (68 percent), and this is attributed to the fact that they were cut before the FGM Law was enacted, Anti-FGM campaigns were unavailable and it was generally accepted as a normal way of life within the practicing communities. Prevalence among girls aged 15-24 years is at 8 percent and this is due to the effect of the law and the ongoing interventions to decampaign the practice.
FGM is practiced in the eastern part of the country among the Sabiny living in the districts of Kapchorwa, Bukwo and Kween in Elgon region; and the Pokot, Kadam and Tepeth living in Amudat, Moroto and Nakapiripirit districts in Karamoja region. FGM is also reported among migrant communities including refugees.
A disturbing trend of FGM surge was observed within a period of three to four months (November 2018 to January 2019) in Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts which resulted in an estimated 350 girls and women being mutilated. This demonstrated the need for consistency and sustainability of interventions. Why the fight against FGM is important FGM is a violation of the women’s rights and has far reaching effects on their health and social well being.
Effects of FGM include severe bleeding which may lead to death, permanent scars that may block the birth canal, obstetric fistula, urine incontinence, permanent disability, depression, trauma, feelings of disgust, loss of libido, among others.