On February 5, 2014, four girls lay in deep pain in one of the cubicles at Mbale regional referral hospital’s inpatient wards. One of them, Penninah Chepuso, 17, managed to explain that their condition had greatly improved.“We’re much better now,” she said.
Chepuso and her colleagues Susan Nasiwa (18), Rebecca Nakiru (16) and Jacqueline Kilipa (18), all from Looro sub-county in Amudat district, had been brought to Mbale hospital for corrective surgeries on their private parts.
They are victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice in which the sexually sensitive clitoris and/or vaginal labia are cut off. Although FGM has been outlawed in Uganda since 2010, Kadama and Pokot communities in Karamoja’s Nakapiripirit and Amudat districts continue to secretly circumcise girls, a practice also carried out among the Sebei and Kenya’s Kalenjin people.
Girls between eight and fourteen years of age are cut – by elderly women often using unsterilized razor blades or knives – to initiate them into womanhood and subsequent early marriages.
The girls go through harrowing experiences that include extensive bleeding, paralyzed legs and scars from the open injuries. They also risk contracting HIV/AIDS. At 12, Chepuso underwent the knife and suffered severe injuries, leaving scars that caused complications during the birth of her first baby two years later.
Unfortunately, her baby died during a difficult delivery that left her with torn vaginal muscles from the FGM scars. Since then she was always wet and smelly from passing urine uncontrollably. This fistula required corrective surgery to stop.
There are as many as 300 girls in need of corrective surgery after undergoing FGM in May and August last year. It’s reported that some parents connive with relatives across the border to sneak their daughters into Kenya for circumcision. Resident also report that young girls hide or run away from their homes for fear of undergoing FGM. This has greatly affected school attendance and performance. Local political leaders fear to publicly condemn the practice for fear of losing votes and in some cases they have helped offenders escape.
Please donate to my campaign to film and produce documentary to raise awareness on the dangers of FGM and stop it. Donate here http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stop-female-genital-mutilation-kata-the-fgm-film