Gender Committee Pushes For Regional FGM Law
Members of Parliament on the Gender committee are lobbying for a regional legislation to curtail Female Genital Mutilation in the East African region.
The committee opines that a regional legal framework will go a long way in curbing the vice in partner states where FGM is vibrant.
FGM refers to the practice where a girl’s clitoris in cut using razor blades or crude knives by women known as “surgeons”. According to the United Nations, about three million women and girls face FGM while nearly 140 million have undergone the practice.
In 2009, Parliament passed the Anti-FGM Act, which became law in 2010, providing for 10-year imprisonment of convicted offenders while if a girl dies during the act, the offenders serve a life sentence.
Margaret Komuhangi, the committee chairperson, during a meeting with a group of female MPs from the Zimbabwe Parliament on October 25, 2016, noted that in spite of strides in enactment of the act, which has seen more girls return to school, its implementation is a challenge.
Komuhangi, who is the Nakasongola Woman MP, said with shared borders of the Sabiny community, which practices FGM, implementation of the law is sometimes difficult.
“Since the law came into play, we have seen a reduction in FGM cases and more girls going to school in the affected regions. The challenge we have with the law is that it is cross cutting at the border of Uganda and Kenya. So if we put a law in Uganda and none in Kenya, girls cross over to Kenya to do it there hence need for a regional law,” Komuhangi noted.
In Kenya, the Children’s Act No. 8 of 2001 prohibits FGM and other harmful practices that ‘negatively affect’ children while in Tanzania, the Penal Code amended in 1998 which criminalized FGM at Article 169A Penal Code
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), is fronting for a regional law, spearheaded by Uganda’s representative in EALA, Dora Byamukama, to prohibit FGM in all member states.
Senator Monica Matsyangwa, chairperson of Zimbabwean Women Parliamentary Caucus, who led the delegation of MPs, highlighted the challenges that children, especially girls, face in her country. She cited defilement and child marriages as one of the issues Parliament is tackling.
“How are you also dealing with child-related vices in society? How is the girl child being supported through government policies? We should look at these urgently,” Matsyangwa implored.