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Gender Justice - Educating to eradicate this harmful, cultural practice
Provincial Community Development Coordinator for MU Uganda, Barbara Mugisha, highlights the way Mothers’ Union is campaigning against female genital mutilation in local communities
In the province of the Church of Uganda, we have 37 dioceses. One of the dioceses, Sebei, has had a long historical, cultural practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). This coercive act is one of the many violent acts against women and girls that has been campaigned against by the Mothers’ Union (MU) leadership.
The practice of FGM involves girls and women being forced to have their genitals mutilated to prevent them from experiencing any future sexual pleasure. Its aim is to prevent them from sexual immorality, by killing their sexual interests. But this has led to men marrying more than one woman, due to sexual dissatisfaction with their wives, and resulted in a high number of children per family.
The various activities that have been carried out to address this violent act include the following:
- Sensitisation against FGM through the media, schools and community gatherings
- Music, dance and drama activities by Mothers’ Union members to raise awareness of the FGM effects on the survivors
- Diocesan monthly seminars about FGM
- Using church sermons to preach against gender-based violence (GBV)
- Mothers’ Union prayer and fellowship for reconciliation and healing for FGM survivors
- Peace-building sessions for affected families.
A success story
The campaign against FGM in the urban areas of Sebei has been a success, as there are no new cases reported. Women have been empowered and the men are supportive in the community. The women who were mutilated can now openly talk to girls, as well as more widely, about the disadvantages of FGM.
Girls are studying without fear of FGM and the situation has become peaceful for women and girls generally. Marital conflict and separation due to FGM issues have greatly reduced. Mothers’ Union has played a big role in this. The girl-child has been protected and reports from the schools and churches are encouraging. We thank God that, through the efforts of the proactive MU leaders, the girls have a right to pursue their education without disruption and women have a right to sexual pleasure during marriage.
The continuing challenge