Uganda: When Pokot Men Said ‘No’ to Female Genital Mutilation

Published on allAfrica, by Joseph Miti, February 27, 2012.

… When men shun circumcised women:

Lotolim, a husband of two wives, says he chose to advocate against the practice after getting problems with his first circumcised wife. “Just like any other man in the community, I was in support of FGM until I married a circumcised woman. We always had problems whenever we had a child because she could not deliver normally. Each time she would give birth, she would be cut and the wound could take ages to cure,” Mr Lotolim, a resident of Jumbe village in Amudat District, explains.  

Besides, the pain she would experience while having a baby was too expensive for us since medical bills would shoot to heights we could not afford,” he explains. He was forced to marry a second wife who was not circumcised, enabling him to spot dangers of FGM. Interestingly, both his wives, Rhoda and Suzan, have joined him in publicly condemning the practice.

FGM/C is the procedure of total or partial removal of female genitalia. While in Uganda it is practiced by less than one per cent of the total population, the percentage is high among the communities in the Eastern and Uganda where 95 per cent of Pokot and 50 per cent of Sabiny women undergo circumcision. Reports also indicate that FGM is widely practiced among the Tepeth in Moroto.

For many women and girls, FGM is forced on them against their will. Because it is a deeply rooted cultural tradition, they are raised into accepting that it is a rite of passage into womanhood and a condition for marriage.

In the Pokot and Tepeth communities, girls are cut at the age of 12 and 14 and after circumcision, they are married off. According to Peter Lokor, Pokot Zonal Integrated Development Programme team leader, the practice was adopted by their ancestors many years ago to protect women from committing adultery when husbands are away from home. “Besides protecting them from committing adultery, the ritual was perceived as adding value to girls or women,” Lokor says … //

… No mercy for mutilators:

“More women are stepping out to say no to FGM and over 30 mutilators (cutters) have denounced the practice and even changed their names. One in Katikekile sub-county was cursed to death by the community after she vowed to continue with the job,” he adds.

In July 2011, during the Pokot Cultural Day, 36 community leaders from three parishes in the Pokot Sub-region, including local council members, religious leaders, Kraal leaders, signed a declaration to advocate against the practice.

Although Margaret Akiria, who was once a mutilator, suggests that those still cutting be supported with incentives as a token to abandon the practice, Jackson rejects the idea.

She says research carried out worldwide over the matter indicate that once the incentives are over, the women revert to their old days. (full text).

Link:

Global Efforts to End Female Genital Mutilation FGM – Press Conference 28 February 2012:
Watch this video from the United Nations Webcast, 38.09 minutes.

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