The minister for Gender and Culture Ms Peace Mutuuzo has warned school matrons against initiating young girls into labia pulling (Okusika), claiming that it is another type of Female Genital Mutilation.
Ms. Peace Mutuuzo said the government will find measures of engaging with girls especially those in primary on how to report the perpetrators who encourage or force a practice that doesn’t even add value to their health or wealth.
“We shall target matrons in primary boarding schools. You are preparing our girls who are not yet ready for marriage and may get partners who do not care about that (genital elongation),” Ms. Mutuuzo said while addressing journalists in Kampala.
According to some tribes in Uganda, Pulling as meant to increase on sexual sweetness and satisfaction. It is a tradition common in central and southern parts of Uganda and Rwanda, which basically involves the elongation of the labia minora on the female private parts by girls and women.
However, the practice is widely criticized by the West for allegedly being outdated and barbaric.
Ms. Mutuuzo while addressing journalists, she hinted about the forthcoming International Day for Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation scheduled on February 6.
She claims that her ministry needs an increase in the budgetary allocation from the current Shs200 million to Shs1.2 billion to help fight female genital mutilation which is predominant in the Sebei sub-region in eastern Uganda.
She insists that pulling isn’t worth raising as an issue to be budgeting for, therefore it should be banned immediately.
“The money is on a budget to help in community sensitization, strengthen male engagement, establish shelters for FGM victims and engage more elders in the fight against the practice” she adds
Uganda has four types of FGM; some of which are irreversible while others have resulted into death due to over bleeding by the victims.
The types of FGM practiced in Uganda, according to government, are; clitoridectomy, excision (practiced by the Sabiny), infibulation or pharaonic (practiced by the Pokot) and other types- mainly genital elongation practiced by Bantu speaking people, especially in central Uganda.
So according to Ms Peace Mutuuzo, genital elongation (pulling) is another type of female genital mutilation that should be banned before compete uncontrollable circulation.
Ms Mutuuzo claims that educated Ugandans think that this cutting is less painful if done by a medical personnel. However to her the reverse is also true. Therefore the difference is the similarity.
“The young people have utilized social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, to openly campaign for preservation of FGM, as an important practice of the Sabiny culture using the slogan “Our culture, our Identity” Ms Mutuuzo said.
The minister said government was aware of the WhatsApp groups created to aid this outdated vice and are planning on how to track down the members for prosecution.
Uganda enacted the Prohibition of FGM Act 2010 to eliminate the practice but it has persisted due to cultural beliefs and now another type has cropped up (pulling) which is an enhancement to please men during sex.
Ministry of Gender reports indicates that between November 2018 and January 2019, about 350 girls underwent FGM in Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts.
Globally, it is estimated that approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women have undergone some form of genital mutilation or cutting.
According to health experts, this cutting is very dangerous health-wise. It is accompanied by severe bleeding which may lead to death, permanent scars that may block the birth canal, obstetric fistula, urine incontinence, permanent disability, depression, trauma, feelings of disgust, loss of libido, among others.
In 2012, the UN General assembly designated February 6 as the international day of zero tolerance of FGM. The theme for 2020 is “Unleashing Youth Power”, One decade of accelerating actions for zero Female Genital Mutilation by 2030.
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Written by Erica Nsunjo