Phyllis Chemutai, the Woman Member of Parliament for Kapchorwa, has urged activists campaigning against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to reframe their messages in a way that resonates with the community, aiming to discourage the practice.
Chemutai expressed this plea during a meeting on Thursday with youth from Sebei and Karamoja sub-regions in Soroti, where various community issues, including Gender-Based Violence (GBV), were discussed.
Chemutai highlighted that FGM persists in the communities due to the ineffectiveness of the messages used by activists. She emphasized that constant reference to two women, Judith from Chema Sub County and Monica from West Division, whose deaths were reportedly linked to the effects of FGM over a decade ago, has become less impactful.
Despite bearing children, these women developed physical disabilities attributed to FGM, and when they passed away, activists relied on the same message to dissuade FGM.
According to Chemutai, some proponents of FGM have developed persuasive counter-messages, undermining the efforts of activists. She urged activists and partners to invest in more compelling approaches to combat FGM effectively.
Rose Chebet, the Community Development Officer for Kween District, acknowledged the challenges of obtaining FGM statistics due to the secretive nature of the practice.
However, she noted that FGM continues to be practiced in the district, with interventions from the army and police in 2019 in response to a surge in cases. Chebet emphasized that communities are now more informed and sophisticated in challenging anti-FGM advocates.
Ben Sakajja, Chebet’s counterpart from Bukwo, asserted that communities are no longer attentive to FGM discussions and campaigns. Instead, they accuse anti-FGM activists and partners of exploiting the issue for personal gain.
Samuel Francis Ononge, the Programs Coordinator with Action Aid in the Sebei sub-region, acknowledged the complexity of the FGM fight due to the secretive nature of communities. He emphasized the need to target young people, especially males, to disseminate messages promoting healthy practices.
FGM is prevalent among the Sabiny in the Sebei sub-region and the Pokot, Tepeth, and Kadama in the Karamoja Region. In 2010, Uganda outlawed the practice, recognizing it as a violation of women’s human rights with severe health consequences. Uganda aims to eradicate FGM practices by 2030.