female genital mutilation

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Female Circumcision Still a Vote Winner

By Wambi Michael

KAMPALA, Oct 19 (IPS) - Over three decades ago a 14-year-old girl, her sister and a group of young teenagers from Bukwo headed to the River Amana for a ceremony that would change their lives forever.

Since her childhood, Gertrude Chebet had been told of the day she would become a woman. She was led to believe it would be a great moment of change and it was something to look forward to with much joy.

As she and her sister began that early morning trek, from their village in eastern Uganda, in the cold and through the bushes to the place of initiation, she expected it to be the best day of her life. But she was wrong.  It turned out to be the most harrowing.

"One of the elder women overseeing the circumcision took a sample of our saliva, urine and pubic hair and buried it.  She then ordered us to lie on the ground and after the first cut, I lost consciousness and cannot remember what happened next," she remembers now.

Even after passing out she and the other girls were not allowed to use modern medicine to treat their wounds. Instead she was forced to use cow urine, prescribed by her elders.

Today Chebet is a primary school teacher and campaigns against female circumcision, otherwise known as female genital mutilation.

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