Parents protest forced circumcision of children

The Soroti District Police Community Liaison Officer, Mr Otelu Eyatu, addresses pupils of Oderai Primary School after the meeting with parents over the circumcision of their children. PHOTO BY JOSEPH EIGU ONYANGO

What you need to know:

Complaint. Parents on Thursday stormed the school complaining about the forced circumcision of their children without their consent. They said the circumcision has since driven their children out of school


Parents have protested the circumcision of their underage children studying at Oderai Primary School in Soroti sub-county, Soroti District.

At least 25 pupils were circumcised on Monday without consent of their parents and most of them have since not returned to school.

The exercise targeted children from Primary Three to Primary Seven aged between 11 to 15. They were circumcised at Soroti Health Centre III. The exercise was facilitated by Baylor Uganda, a non governmental organisation.

Parents said the circumcised children preferred to stay back at their respective homes because they are still feeling pain.
The protesting parents on Thursday stormed the school complaining to the administration about the forced circumcision of their children without their consent.

The situation was rescued after the intervention of police headed by Soroti Police Community Liaison Officer, Mr Otelu Eyatu and the officer in charge of Child and Family Protection Unit at Soroti Central Police Station, Ms Florence Atim.

Parents protest
Most parents were opposed to the circumcision and told the police officers that they wanted the teachers and the health workers to produce the foreskins from their children’s reproductive organs.

“I have always advised my children never to get circumcised. I am asking the school and the health workers to produce the foreskin of my son’s penis. I want to see it physically,” Ms Hellen Ademun, one of the protesting parents charged at the school administration.

She was overcome by emotion and cried. This prompted police to convene an urgent meeting at the school compound with the school administrators and parents.

Mr Moses Michael Ourum, a father of three circumcised children, told police one of his brother’s children had gone missing.
“One of our children is not seen both at home and school because he ran away from Soroti Health Centre III after seeing his brothers yelling in pain,” Mr Ourum said.

A parent, William Okello of Oderai village, said he learnt of the circumcision on Wednesday when his son in Primary Seven refused to return to school.

“I asked the boy to tether the cattle in the bush but he did not come out of bed. When I checked him, I found blood flowing all over his private parts. I asked him what had happened and he told us they had been circumcised,” Mr Okello said.
The parents said they were considering suing the school and health workers for forcibly circumcising their children without their consent.

Mr Eyatu grilled the school head-teacher, Ms Stella Bertha Okello, as to say who authorised the exercise, but she said she had been away on sick leave and her deputy, Ms Catherine Acalo, had been running the school.

Ms Acalo said she authorised the exercise because it was being led by the district medical workers.

However, Mr Eyatu told them it was wrong to allow circumcision of underage children without their parents’ knowledge.
He convened a school assembly and told the pupils to focus on their books and not allow to be taken out of school again.

The official in charge of Soroti Health Centre III, Ms Harriet Amuat, insisted they were carrying out a government programme and Soroti District administration had signed a partnership with Baylor Uganda to fund the circumcision exercise in Teso sub-region.

“We have not yet received any complaint from the parents about the sick children. We also have staff monitoring them,” Ms Amuat said.

However, the Soroti Sub-county chairperson, Mr Edward Esegu, castigated Ms Amuat for not seeking consent from the parents because the children are still underage.