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Uganda Bans Female Circumcision: Editorial

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The Ugandan Parliament unanimously passed a bill in the beginning of December, 2009, that bans female circumcision which is also known as female genital mutilation, or FGM.

According to the United Press International, people who are convicted of performing FGM will have to spend up to 10 years in prison and will face life sentences in those cases where the girl dies from this brutal procedure. The Ugandan Parliament is considering an amendment that would give compensation to the victims of this form of mutilation.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had originally announced plans to have a law that would ban female circumcision in the month of July. Government Spokesman Fred Opolot told CNN the following, “A majority of Ugandans felt it is a disgusting act, but you have to remember that this is a cultural belief that has been practiced for generations … that’s what too the bill so long to pass.” I am all for cultural traditions except in instances where they cause pain, suffering and sometimes death to people. And in the case of FGM, all of that pain and suffering is inflicted upon girls and young women who did not willingly participate in that horrific procedure.

FGM consists of the total or partial removal of the external genitalia, without any anesthetic. It is extremely dangerous and can leave a girl with a life time of suffering. It increases the risk of HIV transmission and also increases infant and maternal mortality rates. This practice also leads to urological problems, as well as other maladies. The procedure decreases sexual satisfaction women. I have read that this is in fact the real honest-to-goodness reason why the procedure is performed.

According to the Feminist Daily Newswire (the source for this article), about 3 million girls or young women are forced to undergo FGM as some sort of birth control and as an initiation into womanhood. Suffice to say that the reasons for this mutilation seem to be varied. Incredibly, it is practiced in 28 African countries. It has been said that it is some sort of rite of passage.

The Ugandan Parliament is deserving of congratulations for banning female circumcision. This is truly an enlightened law that will ultimately spare girls and young women from such an inhumane practice . It is a good way to bring in the new year.

Add a Comment6 Comments

I agree that it's a step in the right direction and one of the important things about this post Anna, is that you posted it. So many people are unaware that this procedure exists (invented by British doctors back when they blamed sex for most diseases and mental issues) and that it takes place in many areas on the African continent against the will of the female subject.

It is time for this to end. This procedure (invented by a man) is intrusive, painful and many times deadly. I do hope this is enforced.

I have friends who travel frequently to Uganda and I also have friends who have lived there for 7 years... it seems that the political climate is changing.. it's good to have even small victories. We all know that change comes slow but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

January 6, 2010 - 1:34pm

Hi Jerold,
Thanks for your comments, and I will check out those links. I will agree with you about Uganda's human rights record.

January 6, 2010 - 8:30am
EmpowHER Guest

As much as I would like not to, I have to agree with "Debbie Downer" on Uganda and its less than admirable human rights record. As an ex- Zimbabwean I can attest to the fact - with a little help from Robert Mugabe - that African politics is notoriously expedient, to say the least. Nevertheless, any negative publicity for the proponents of FGM is good publicity as far as I am concerned, and we need plenty of it. My small contribution can be found on my website, along with comments by Narwal El Saadarwi, the Egyptian doctor who has been campaigning tirelessly (and bravely) for decades to eliminate this abhorrant ritual that has no foundation in any religion, despite what they would have us believe. There are also links to several interesting articles on the subject from around the world. It's all free at www.jeroldrichert.com/FGM.html
Jerold Richert - author

January 5, 2010 - 8:48pm

Hi Susan,
Yes, enforcing this ban is a totally different matter. I dare to be hopeful because this law is humane, but deep down inside I harbor serious misgivings about its application. Uganda has a long way to go on the spectrum of human rights, agreed. Banning FGM is a great step - now let's wait and see what happens, for the sake of girls and young women.

January 2, 2010 - 8:27am

Thanks for your comments. My information concerning the increase in risk of HIV transmission came froman article whose sources were the Feminist Daily Newswire and the United Press International. I will grant you it is possible they are wrong.

January 1, 2010 - 9:15am

Female circumcision is a terrible thing, but it's not true to say that "it increases the risk of HIV transmission". It actually seems to decrease the risk.

The 2005 Stallings study showed the following:

Results: In the final logistic model, circumcision remained highly significant [OR=0.60; 95% CI 0.41,0.88] while adjusted for region, household wealth, age, lifetime partners, union status, and recent ulcer.

Conclusions: A lowered risk of HIV infection among circumcised women was not attributable to confounding with another risk factor in these data.

January 1, 2010 - 8:17am
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