A member of the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) has said that over 200 million women in Africa have faced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Contributing to debate on the East African Community Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill, 2016, Hon Judith Pareno said the huge number of victims of FGM were carried in 27 countries across the continent including Uganda.
Hon Pareno’s disclosure comes in the wake of the EALA granting leave to Hon Dora Byamukama to introduce the Bill that among others, seeks to outlaw the backward cultural practice that is also practiced among the Sebei in Uganda.
According to Hon Byamukama, the culture of FGM brings with it a number of complications including early child marriage and defilement, health complications that sometimes lead to transmission of HIV and AIDS, death and injuries to those who bear the practice.
Further, she says, with the advent of the Common Market Protocol which necessitates free-movement and cross-border nature, the influence of culture and hence spread is expected to increase if not checked.
Hon Saoli ole Nkanae noted that the practice is prevalent among the Maasai people in East Africa, terming it a serious matter. Also rising in support of the motion was Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia and is rooted in gender inequality and attempts to control women’s sexuality and ideas about purity, modesty and aesthetics.
In 2016 UNICEF estimated that 200 million women had undergone the procedures in 27 countries in Africa, as well as in Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen, with a rate of 80–98 percent within the 15–49 age group in Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan.
FGM is usually initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honour, and who fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters cut will expose the girls to social exclusion.
The health effects of FGM can include recurrent infections, difficulty urinating and passing menstrual flow, chronic pain, the development of cysts, an inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth, and fatal bleeding.