Female genital mutilation banned in Uganda

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been banned by leaders of the only Ugandan tribe that carries out the practice, a month before the seasonal tribal ritual begins, press reports said on Thursday.

Elected councillors representing the Sabiny tribe at their main district seat in Uganda’s eastern town of Kapchorwa have vowed to have anybody involved in the practice arrested and prosecuted, according to the Daily Monitor newspaper.

“In line with the United Nations resolution against FGM adopted last year, we have already passed a by-law banning FGM in the district and although it is yet to be verified by the Attorney General, we are determined to end this practice,” the paper quoted the district’s chairperson, Nelson Chelimo, as saying.

Hundreds of girls undergo the practice each year among the Sabiny, a tribe that lives in a mountainous region lying along the border with neighbouring Kenya.

Human rights and women’s advocacy groups have been campaigning against FGM, which they say leads to health complications and even death among the victims who are in many cases forced to undergo the ritual.

The Ugandan government has been hinting at legislating against the practice but there has been no tougher political commitment so far.

One of the charities leading the campaign against FGM in the country, Save the Child Fund, welcomed the move, saying that “for us it [the by-law] is a plus because FGM is dangerous to the lives of the girls. It is a brutal act.”

However, according to the Daily Monitor, “the abolition of the practice has faced resistance from many conservative traditionalists, claiming circumcision is the rite of passage from being a girl to a woman”.—Sapa-dpa

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