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Cross Border Relations Complicating FGM Fight In Karamoja :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Cross Border Relations Complicating FGM Fight In Karamoja

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The procedure, involving the complete excision of female genitalia can lead to long-term health complications during childbirth, such as fistula, continuous urine leakage, and increases the risk of death during delivery due to early marriage.
Isabirye explains problems of adoloscent sexual reproductive health
Activists have highlighted that the persistent challenge of porous borders and cross-border relations hampers the complete eradication of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Karamoja region. They emphasize the need for a regionally integrated approach to tackle this age-old practice. 

Addressing the media in Entebbe on Wednesday, representatives from the Nagguru Teenage Information and Health Centre (NTIHC) revealed that individuals, either by choice or influenced by parents, travel to Kenya where FGM services are obtained without legal repercussions before returning after the healing process. 

NTIHC, initially based in Kampala, focuses on providing sexual and reproductive health information and services while supporting teenage wellbeing. Sam Asiimwe, NTIHC's head of programs, and Silas Isabirye, the organization's Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, explained that these "international" services are often provided by relatives or known experts residing across the border. Uganda's legal framework and ongoing advocacy have posed hurdles for proponents of this practice. 

Asiimwe recently visited Bukwo district and received reports that twenty girls had crossed into Kenya for the procedure. FGM, perceived as a ritual marking a girl's transition to marriage, has faced criticism from medical experts who label it as a dehumanizing act with lasting detrimental effects on women's sexual, emotional, physical, and health well-being. 

The procedure, involving the complete excision of female genitalia, can lead to long-term health complications during childbirth, such as fistula, and continuous urine leakage, and increases the risk of death during delivery due to early marriage. NTIHC's communications officer, Esther Makula, and Joshua Thembo, in collaboration with the organization, highlighted FGM as a primary reason for early school dropouts among girls in the region, leading to interventions supporting these at-risk girls by ensuring their education and safety. 

Isabirye pointed out poverty as a driver for FGM, citing dowry payment for mutilated girls and the belief that children from early marriages are considered "wealth." Additionally, Isabirye addressed the prevalence of teenage pregnancies and early sexual activity contributing to Uganda's maternal mortality rate and the risk of HIV/AIDS among youths. 

He stressed that access to information and services remains a challenge for 22% of teenagers due to information gaps, unfriendly service provision, or stock-outs, exposing them to risks. In efforts to improve youth services, NTIHC seeks stronger media partnerships for information dissemination.

Journalists recommended involving them in field visits, capacity-building, leveraging new media, and publishing periodic adolescent reproductive health issues to effectively reach and engage young people. Isabirye mentioned that youths' preferred sources of information include social media, peers, radio, toll-free calls, health workers, and educational materials.