Kapchorwa Woman MP Phyllis Chemutai says the government as well as stakeholders are working hard to ensure that there are no more cases of female genital mutilation by 2030.
She made the remarks on Thursday during an engagement with youth from Sebei and Karamoja sub-regions held at Akello Hotel in Soroti City.
“We are doing our best to fight early marriages and teenage pregnancy. Come 2030, we will have achieved our goals,” MP Chemutai noted.
She said that to achieve this, education should be the key for both boys and girls.
“Our children need proper education,” she added.
ActionAid International Uganda, which organised the youth engagement, with funds from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is implementing a programme towards social norms transformation in Sebei and Karamoja sub-regions.
Samuel Francis Ononge, the Programs Coordinator with Action Aid in the Sebei sub-region, said the engagement saw youth from atleast six districts represented.
“We are working with young people who can cause transformation to make them believe that violence against women and girls is against the law,” he said.
According to Ononge, the objective of the meeting was to create a functional mechanism for youth actors and stakeholders to enhance cooperation to end child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is prevalent among the Sabiny in the Sebei sub-region and the Pokot, Tepeth, and Kadama in the Karamoja region, was outlawed in 2010.
Uganda aims to eradicate FGM practices by 2030 because it violates women’s human rights.
In her speech, MP Chemutai urged those championing the fight against Genital Mutilation (FGM) to involve youth and the community as they spread the message against the practice.
“FGM is something that has been there even before our grandfathers were born. The action has been deep-rooted in our culture and to uproot it is not easy,” she noted.
She thanked social actors who are bringing it to a manageable level. “We need to work hard to end the practice.”
She said although Uganda has many laws, most of them have not been enforced and that is why FGM is still continuing.
Ononge, on the other hand, said working with young people will increase the chances of spreading the messages against this practice ever further.
He cited corruption in the police saying that even when cases are reported, police officers get bribed and side with the perpetrators instead of the victims.
Chelangat Gloria, Country Representative Global Youth Consortium against FGM, said they realised that FGM is not only happening in Uganda as a country but across the globe.
“This is something that happens every other day and we experience it, we see it, and we believe that if the government joins our efforts, it will be of great impact,” she noted.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
MP Chemutai also spoke against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) which brings disorganisation in families, causing trouble for children.
“The father and mother should be exemplary to the children,” she noted.
Irene Chekamoko, a service provider in charge of Reproductive Health Uganda in Kapchorwa District, said cutting a woman’s clitoris kills sexual feelings.
“It is worse because libido goes down and results in gender-based violence in the long run. Pulling, on the other hand, increases the urge for sex but reduces sexual energy in the long run,” she explained.
According to her, good sexual practices can actually lead to harmony in the home hence FGM must be discouraged because of its disastrous consequences on women.
56% of married women aged 15-49 reported having suffered physical and/or sexual violence by a partner according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, UBOS, 2021.
Out of the 135 districts in Uganda, there are only 20 Gender Based Violence Shelters in Uganda.
According to Chelangat, the existing policies need to be strengthened if stakeholders are to eliminate these bad practices in the community.
She cited the 2010 Act saying that it still has gaps as seen in Karamoja.
“It needs to be translated into the local language and ensure it reaches the local person on the ground,” said Chelangat.
According to her, youth inclusion and participation in government programmes will ensure that young people are in every stage of budgeting. “They miss out and the little funds allocated to them can not execute their programmes. We need innovation hubs and recreational centres in districts so that young people can come together, discuss their issues and find solutions,” she noted.
On his part, Limo Ronnie, an activist from Kapchorwa district, emphasised the need to implement alternative rites of passage to end the negative practices.
Such alternative rites of passage include; education, safe male circumcision, skilling and weddings, among others.
Denis Athiyo, the Nakapiripirit District Community Development Officer (DCDO), said they have surveillance teams on the ground to monitor the situation i.e. those cutting girls or cases of domestic violence etc.
“We also rescue children especially survivors of these vices and do a follow-up. We link them to different service providers. We have a referral system where they are cases of abuse,” he noted.
He added: “We also have coordination foras at the district, sub-county and national level. We have a judicial system, child protection system etc on board bringing together ideas to see how to support the children.”
As part of the recommendations, the youth urged cultural and religious leaders to establish spots where young people can be taught sexual education and given counselling on marriage issues.