Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM, is not widely practiced in Uganda, but it is now officially banned, with prison sentences imposed. BBC reports Anyone convicted of the practice, will face 10 years in jail, or a life sentence if a victim dies. Rights groups welcomed the move, but urged awareness campaigns to ensure the centuries-old practice stops. The key to implementation, as always, is education. Here is more background from the UNFPA
Laws are useful, but changing traditional practices is complex, and involves working closely with those who 'benefit' from archaic practices, such as the women who benefit financially and in status by performing FGM and the men who keep the power imbalance. Ouseman Sembene's wonderful film Moolaadé is a "fascinating study of the clash between pragmatic modern thinking and staunch religious traditionalism in Senegal. The film focuses on the controversial procedure of 'purification', in which young girls are forced to undergo genital mutilation to supposedly make them more faithful wives. When six young girls flee the cutting, they seek refuge with a well-known woman, Collé who is viewed with suspicion in the community for her stubborn refusal to adhere to all the societal 'norms'. Collé herself had refused to let her daughter be 'purified' and her actions prove to be inflammatory. Sembene's work is moving and engaging. He is able to explore ideas of male hegemony while simultaneously studying the difficulties faced by the patriarch in striving towards accepted constructions of masculinity. Sembene understands the quirks of this society and his representations of these offer both light relief and food for thought. Religious traditionalism manifests itself through a ruthless and outdated male hegemony and it is clear Sembene sees feminism as a crucial means by which modernisation can be achieved". Consider holding a screening.
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