Kapchorwa Woman Member of Parliament, Phyllis Chemutai has asked activists fighting against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to redesign messages that will appeal to the community to abandon the vice.
Chemutai made the appeal on Thursday during a meeting with youth drawn from Sebei and Karamoja sub-regions to discuss issues affecting the communities including Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Soroti.
According to Chemutai, FGM has persisted in the communities because the messages used by the activists are no longer appealing to the communities. She notes that in her district, the activists keep referring to two women whose deaths were reportedly linked to the effects of FGM.
“The said victims (Judith from Chema Sub County and Monica from West Division) were mutilated on the same day, more than 10 years ago. However, sometime later, even after bearing children, they developed physical disabilities that were attributed to FGM. When these women died, all the activists rode on the same message to try to dissuade people from FGM,” she said.
Chemutai says that some of the proponents of FGM in the communities have developed convincing messages to dismiss the claims by the activists. She implored the activists and partners to invest in more impactful approaches to ending FGM.
Rose Chebet, the Kween District Community Development Officer says that although there are no statistics on FGM practices in the district because of the more secretive methods used by the perpetrators, the vice is still being practiced by the communities in the district. She notes that there was a wave of FGM practices in 2019 that attracted interventions from the army and the police.
Chebet says that the communities are now more informed and sophisticated to challenge the anti-FGM crusaders.
Chebet’s colleague from Bukwo, Ben Sakajja says that the communities are no longer paying attention to any FGM discussions and campaigns. He notes that instead, they are accusing the anti-FGM activists and partners of using the vice to enrich themselves.
But Samuel Francis Ononge, the Programs Coordinator with Action Aid in the Sebei sub-region says that the FGM fight has become more complex because of the secretive nature of the communities. He notes that they are now targeting young people especially males to spread the messages of healthy practices to the communities.
FGM is practiced among the Sabiny in the Sebei sub-region and the Pokot, Tepeth, and Kadama in the Karamoja Region. The practice was outlawed in Uganda in 2010 since it was found to be a violation of women’s human rights with devastating health consequences like fistula, chronic pain, childbirth complications, and in severe cases, death.
Uganda aims to end FGM practices by 2030.