FGM promoting high levels of female illiteracy
Monday, 6 July, 2020
Evils resulting from Female Genital Mutilation in Karamoja region are having far reaching effects than initially imagined, with young girls being denied joining school in the name of fulfilling cultural norms.
Girls as young as 13years have been subjected to this rather painful and disturbing practice, coupled with being paraded for marriage few months after the genital cutting.
According to Sisto Lokiru an elder in Akariwon village Tapac sub county, Moroto district, more than 90% of the girls never got chance to step in school, after they were forced into observing female genital Mutilation which qualified them into marriage materials.
“Almost all girls in this community are illiterate because they never got chance to study. They were subjected to female genital mutilation and married off as early as possible, “confirms Lokiro.
Lokiro who also doubles as an FGM activist confirms “girls are brainwashed by their mothers from as young as eight years, convincing them that their happiness and life fulfilment lies in a man’s hands,”.
This elder who now strongly condemns this practice adds that, coupled with societal pressures and the parent’s greed (especially fathers) to get wealth, the girls grow up knowing no need of school.
In the long run, such communities have no female teachers, since they never get chance to set foot in any school setting.
Pastor Simon Peter Loduk, the church of Uganda diocesan administrator laments that the situation of female illiteracy due to long term effects of FGM is quite alarming, with almost all girls not being able to write or even spell their own names.
“In my position as church leader, I have witnessed embarrassing situations where by you find that when you interact with women from FGM infiltrated communities, the girls and even their mothers cannot read, write or even spell their names,”.
The spiritual leader marred with disappointment in his eyes, confirmed.
At the same time, the way the cutting process was designed in these districts, it is carried out with a shape equipment, which leaves the girl with a deep wound.
Elizabeth Koda, the LC1 chairperson in this village explains that “the local surgeons just rudely cut out the tender clitoris of the young girl, creating a deep wound which takes long to heal,”
Koda who is now a strong FGM activist vividly recalls how she was personally subjected to this rather rude cultural operation.
She adds that such wounds cannot even allow any girl go to school, since they are treated locally, which delays the healing process.
At the same time, the fresh wounds are sealed off with two small sharp matchbox like sticks, which makes it very hard for the victim to close her legs or even move many meters.
Eventually, some wounds become septic since there is no medical intervention given. Such girls sometimes die or get life threatening long term side effects like never to give birth.
20 year old Magdalen Moru is an example of the female young star whose future was forcefully interrupted by FGM. She cannot read nor write.
“I completely have no idea of what a school setting looks like. All I can remember, I was cut and after a few months, I was in the hands of Paul Lotyang as my husband, till now,” Confirmed.
Explaining with hopelessness in her tone, the young mother of two says it is her husband who steps in on her behalf for whatever small thing that needs reading or writing.
“If am asked to write my name or sign any document, my husband will do it on my behalf,”
Until the introduction of the anti FGM law, the situation was not any different in Amudat district.
In Bugiri district, the situation is no different. Many Sabiny who have insisted on cutting their girls have continued marrying them off at a tender age, instead of sending them to school.
Amza Tendet Zimbo is a trained primary teacher in Iwemba Sub county, Bugiri district. He is one of the legendary Sabinys who has completely abandoned the cutting practice, but confirms many girls are still hidden at indoors and married off instead of sending them to school.
“Some of our fellow Sabinys are still cutting girls as young as 12years and marrying them off instead of sending them to school,” Tendet confirms.
He adds that levels of illiteracy among such diehards of female genital mutilation is very high.
Amref Health Africa teams up with African communities to create lasting health change.