Female Genital Mutilation and Elongation in Uganda – A Cultural Practice Claimed to Aid Sexual Activities and Please Men During Sex

Peace Mutuzo fights against Female Genital Mutilation
Peace-Mutuuzo-Minister-Of-State-for-Gender-and-Culture-Affairs

Female Genital Mutilation – Genital Elongation is Figuratively Known as “Pulling” or “Visiting the Bush” in Uganda.

The Western countries clearly criticize Female Genital Mutilation as being outdated and barbaric. Whereas other practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are harmful, elongation of the clitoris is 100% safe and not part of FGM practices. It doesn’t involve shading of blood whatsoever. It is not harmful to human health, nor does it pose any threats to whoever engages in the practice. The custom has persisted due to beliefs it pleases men during sex.

90% of Ugandan women culturally practice genital elongation. Girls as young as seven engage in the practice as a preparation for marriage in the future. The mother and aunt, popularly known as ‘ssenga’ in Uganda, spearhead the practice in individual families. The practice is mostly famous among the Baganda, the largest Bantu ethnic group in Uganda. Later most tribes in Uganda adopted the practice, Rwandese among others. It involves the elongation of the clitoris to certain inches longer than the labia. It is the most sensitive part of the vagina. 

Ugandan men and women idolize this practice because it excessively increases vaginal fluids during sexual intercourse. They believe this practice enhances sexual activity and pleasure. The act is dying out, but still common among those who know its value. Some Ugandan men believe a woman without genital elongation will never be enticing in bed. Ladies who have ‘visited the bush,’ have testified it keeps the sexual life of their marriage active, interesting, and exciting.

The Involvement of the Ministry of Gender and Culture

On Wednesday, Ms. Peace Mutuuzo, Minister of Gender and Culture told the public that they would find ways to talk to girls, particularly in elementary schools. Girls are to report the perpetrators who encourage a practice that does not render their health more valuable. While addressing journalists in Kampala, Ms. Mutuuzo said they’ll pursue matrons in elementary boarding schools.

Matrons train girls not yet ready for marriage. Yet many are having spouses who don’t care about it (genital elongation). Ms. Mutuuzo pointed to the practice as she spoke to media about Female Genital Mutilation’s International Day for Zero Tolerance on February 6. She said the ministry wanted an increase in budget allocation from the existing Shs 200 m to Shs1.2bn.

The funds will aid the fight against FGM that predominates eastern Uganda’s Sebei sub-region. It will also raise social awareness, improve male participation, build refuges for FGM victims, and involve more authority figures in combating the exercise.

The Different Types of Female Genital Mutilation

Uganda possesses four categories of FGM. Some of them are fatal, whereas others have died of over-bleeding.

Female Genital Mutilation diagram

In Uganda people practice these kinds of FGM.

  • Clitoridectomy
  • Infibulation or pharaonic (practiced by the Pokot)
  • an excision (practiced by the Sabiny)
  • Procedures to the genitalia of women for non-medical purposes like piercing, pricking, incising, scraping, and cauterization

Ms. Mutuuzo said Uganda has a growing medicalization phenomenon as some people believe cutting is less traumatic when performed by medical staff. She claims the trained Ugandans who should have been at the forefront of the war against the custom have facilitated this. The youth are using social networking sites like WhatsApp and Facebook. They are publicly lobbying to retain FGM as a significant Sabiny cultural tradition using the slogan “Our culture, our identity.”

The minister said the government is aware of the Social networks the youth created to help the banned vice. Currently, the government is aiming to monitor the leaders of those online groups for prosecution.

Implementing The Law Against FGM

Uganda introduced the 2010 FGM Act ban to stamp out the practice. UNFPA Country Representative Mr. Alaine Sibenaler said cultural practices are difficult to eliminate. “Culture, however, should not be used as a justification to violate human rights,” he added.

He said the youth and their parents ought to have a conversation, so they understand the risks of FGM. They should have been working together in this community to combat the trend. The Ministry of Gender estimates that around 350 girls endured FGM in the districts of Kapchorwa, Kween, and Bukwo between November 2018 and January 2019.

It is calculated some type of genital mutilation has occurred to around 140 million girls and women. Those who practice cutting the labia do it to prevent girls from lusting after men when they are still young and other reasons. Medical experts agree that cutting has severe health consequences that can cause death, involving significant bleeding.

There are permanent scars that may block the birth canal, obstetric fistula, urine incontinence, permanent disability, depression, trauma, feelings of disgust, loss of libido, among others. The UN General Assembly marked February 6 as the International Zero Tolerance Day for FGM in 2012. “Unleashing Youth Power” is the theme for 2020, a decade of concerted action toward zero female genital mutilation by 2030.

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