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UGANDA: FGM SPREADS IN BUKWO - December 22, 2008 Kampala — Despite efforts to sensitise communities against the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the practice has continued to spread in Bukwo district near the north-eastern border with Kenya. According to the resident district commissioner, Christopher Senghor, about 100 girls have been circumcised this year. However, there are more cases which were not recorded. In Kabei sub-county in Bukwo, 70 cases were reported in the first week of December. Last week, 64 cases were reported in Suam sub-county, which is close to the Uganda-Kenya border. In Bukwo sub-county, 47 girls have been circumcised in the past two weeks. In Kapsorov village, 52 girls were expected to be circumcised on Saturday. Most circumcision cases happen in Suam and Kabei Bukwo. Reach project, which has been sensitising the community against FGM, does not have offices in the area. In Chesowere sub-county, Kapchorwa district, where Reach has an office, only about 16 cases were reported in the last two weeks. FGM is the cutting or alteration of the female genitalia for social rather than medical reasons. Alex Kiprolite, a law enforcement officer in Bukwo, says FGM in the area is carried out by removing the clitoris and labia minora. After cutting, the girls are not treated, but they are told to hold urine and keep their thighs together. It is believed that urine heals the wounds. The practice can lead to severe bleeding and infection, which can cause death. The victims could also be exposed to blood transmitted infections like HIV and Hepatitis B. Kapchorwa recently passed a by-law prohibiting FGM. Local leaders in Bukwo say the increased cases of FGM seem to be a protest against the NGOs for failure to fulfil promises to the "surgeons". The old women claim they were promised exotic animals and the girls promised scholarships so that they could renounce the practice but these have not been delivered.

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