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.