Reviews & Profiles
New lease of life for FGM victims in karamoja
Posted Thursday, October 31 2013 at 02:00
FGM is widely practiced in the Karamoja region, although many organisations are fighting the practice. Organisations such as Mifumi have also set up safe houses for the victims to protect them from further harm.
In spite of being outlawed, female genital mutilation (FGM) is still being practiced. FGM is the partial or total removal of the clitoris. The practice is carried out seasonally in Sebei sub region and some parts of Pokot and Karamoja.
According to Naman Ojwee, the Moroto Resident District Commissioner, before the law against FGM was enacted, the girls who were prepared to “face the knife” were made to celebrate the cutting process and the mutilation took place in public view, although now it is done in secrecy.
In 2010, the government banned FGM and a law was passed stating that perpetrators would face up to 10 years imprisonment and life imprisonment in cases where the victim dies during the act.
Last month, 130 girls were mutilated in Moroto and Amudat districts. Some of these, according to Amudat RDC Stephen Nsubuga Bewayo, have been moved to safety and are now staying at Kalas Girls Primary School. Another organisation that is restoring hopr to the victims in this region is Mifumi through its safe houses.
Real life experience
Thirteen-year-old Jane Nangiro, a resident of Kosiroi village in Tapac Sub-county, Moroto District is one of these girls who also sought solace at a safe house. Her story is gripping. The first arrangement by her parents to mutilate her was on the morning of July 3.
In a bid to avoid the brutal knife, she escaped and hid in the wild bushes.
“When I realised that I was going to be circumcised, I left home and pretended to go to the bush to ease myself but instead, I stayed in the bush for two weeks.
I was feeding on wild fruits because I had nowhere to go because all my relatives were preparing to attend my mutilation function,” Nangiro narrates.
However, she could not stay in her new found sanctuary for long, because of the danger that its habitants posed to her life, so she decided to go back home.
“After surviving being attacked by wild animals, I decided to go back home. When I got there, I was tortured by my parents and relatives, when I cried in pain, instead they tied my legs and hands with ropes.They fixed a local handball into my mouth to block me from wailing. I could hear them talking in Ngakarimojong “Otubjikiyokino” meaning (cut it properly).”
Hoping that the mutilation would appease her parents, Nangiro could not believe it when her parents wanted to marry her off to a 78-year-old man.
She said, “After the circumcision, I stayed with my parents for two more months and then my parents started forcing me to get married to an elderly man aged 78, yet he already had six wives.
My parents preferred him because he had accepted to pay 150 heads of cattle. I was still recovering from all the beatings, so I deceived them that I had accepted to get married, I waited until they had gone to check on the animals and I run away to Tapac Sub-county.
Ray of hope
It was here that somebody transported me up to Mifumi offices in Moroto Town. The Mifumi officials then took me to the hospital for medical service.”It was from the hospital that she was transferred to the new safe home for FGM victims in Moroto. The safe house which is a haven for FGM victims ,was established in Moroto by Mifumi, an NGO with funds from United Nation Population Funds (UNFPA). The centre has 30 rooms with over 30 beds.
Here, the vicitms are offered shelter until the police, Mifumi and Warriors’ squad consult with the victims’ parents.
Patrick Ndira, the deputy country director Mifumi, said the facility provides temporary accommodation to reduce stigma, protect survivors from further harm while they are accessing justice, medical treatment and healing process.