, KAMPALA, November 21- Five men and women in Uganda have been jailed for mutilating the genitals of girls, a rare conviction in the country which is trying to stamp out the often deadly practice.
The five, including those who carried out the mutilation — which can range from hacking off the clitoris to the removal of the entire female genitalia — were arrested in eastern Uganda’s Kapchorwa district last week.
All pleaded guilty to aiding or procuring female genital mutilation (FGM), which was outlawed in 2010. They were jailed for four years, according to the Daily Monitor newspaper.
Uganda’s law makes it a crime to not only carry out FGM or participate in any event leading to its practice, but also to discriminate against a woman who hasn’t had it done.
While dozens of arrests have been made since the law’s introduction, there have been few prosecutions.
Police spokesman Fred Enanga said although the practice was “dying out” in some regions, it was still considered “a tradition” in Kapchorwa district and many continued to practise in secret.
“The law has created fear within communities, you won’t find them having these cultural days where families bring out their girls,” he told AFP. “It is no longer a cultural event like male circumcision.”
Florence Auma from the UN population fund UNFPA, which campaigns to end FGM, said any arrests and convictions were welcome.
“It shows the law is catching up with them and they’re implementing the law,” she said.
Apart from the intense pain itself, immediate dangers include bleeding and infection. In the longer term, risks include infertility and complications during childbirth, sometimes resulting in the death of the baby.
Earlier this month UN chief Ban Ki moon launched a global campaign to end FGM within a generation.