URN reports that girls as young as 12 and above are eluding legal frameworks including law enforcement by sneaking for to cut themselves in small groups before the parents finally find them a specialist to complete the procedure.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is on the rise in Amudat
district, according to officials and anti FGM activists.
Uganda in 2010 outlawed the harmful practice but despite the
legal instrument, the country has struggled ending the practice among the Pokot
URN reports that girls as young as 12 and above are eluding legal
frameworks including law enforcement by sneaking for to cut themselves in small
groups before the parents finally find them a specialist to complete the
procedure. However, data on numbers of girls going for FGM is scanty as the
community conceal information, for fear of legal implications. According to the law anyone who procures, or sponsors FGM is culpable for imprisonment
not exceeding 10 years on conviction.
According to Freda Amuron, the District Community Development
Officer of Amudat, 4 cases were reported to the probation office and the Child
and Family Protection Unit since October while another had 6 girls who had crossed to
Kenya for FGM rescued by partners and Amudat in October.
Amuron contends that the actual number of the girls
undergoing FGM in Amudat especially during the lock-down is actually much higher
than reported because of concealment for fear of legal implications.
She explains that due to lock-down activism against the
practice scaled down while the girls in schools are not with their parents some
of whom consent to FGM.
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Dorcus Chelain, an anti FGM activist agrees that most girls
took advantage of lockdown to go for FGM themselves before information is finally
passed to the parents who then seek for a specialist in for further management
of the condition. Chalain says the girls form groups and escape to the bushes
in order to circumcise themselves.
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Chelain who is also the District Vice Chairperson as well as
the founder of a women’s activist group against FGM in Amudat explains that
strong social influence is a motivating factor for many girls to go for the
ritual. She explains the community is still deeply supportive of the practice because
its viewed as an initiation to marriage.
She adds that it’s also seen as a sign of courage among girls
who eventually become respectable women attracting higher bride prices.
Residents told Uganda Radio Network that the that girls are enticed
to go for circumcision because of gifts given by parents, relatives
and friends to the girls who have undergone FGM.
Chelain is urging the district in partnership with development
partners and enforcement to step up sensitization campaigns against the practice
that is increasingly becoming rampant.
The RDC Amudat John Robert Adiama says enforcement of the FGM act is made difficult because its stealthily conducted and barely reported.
These cases are not brought to our attention but when we know about it, we respond, said Adiama on Friday.