The ultimate end of Female Genital Mutilation has been a goal that not many years ago was far from being achieved. However, with collective efforts and intensive advocacy, communities in the eastern and northeast parts of Uganda specifically semi-regions of Sabei and Pokot have gradually realized a decrease in the practice of this inhumane act. Need to mention, the decrease in such specific areas has not been to a rate as so would be desired but still, not one to understate.
The ultimate end, seen not so far away from much as the numbers are still a scare. This calls for intensifying efforts even more, with over 4 million girls globally at risk of being mutilated annually, and an expected rise of 4.6million girls under the same risk each year unless swift and sufficient action is taken to counter the inhumane and degrading act.
While collective efforts have shaken the tables on which Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) sits, it’s apparent that the good cause still has an unoccupied space of men that has undermined the cause. And while on the face of it, it’s the female gender that is more affected by the drastic effects of FGM thus a perception that they could be in a better position to advocate against the vice, isolated efforts have not turned the tables to cause a total downfall of the FGM.
Little attention has been paid to what the involvement of men in this great cause could yield. Not to say, they have been totally sidelined in the good cause to end FGM since some men have themselves acted indifferently towards the inhumane vice. Understanding that the indifference of men towards the vice could easily be misinterpreted for acceptance or endorsement has paved way for the ongoing happening of the vice despite the existing overwhelming efforts to end it. This thus ought to create the need for the male gender to feel a sense of responsibility in the happening of this vice.
It is undisputed that men play a significant role in influencing families, of which families are the smallest unit of society and it is particular families within some societies that do still practice this inhumane act. As well, there is no dispute that families which practice the vice in most cases do so in consultation or knowledge of the men therein, who could endorse, act indifferent or even decline the mutilation of females in their families. Most men due to ignorance about the adverse effects of the act either accept its performance or act indifferent towards it.
To borrow Bishop Desmond Tutu’s words ‘if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor’ FGM is an injustice and thus the silence and indifference of men (male gender) towards ending it can easily be mistaken or interpreted for support and endorsement of the vice.
Upon direct input, men’s influential status in families and society could end the happening of FGM in their individual families and homes especially if they are fathers or guardians. Most importantly, joining the existing voices against the vice could change society’s perceptions regarding the notion of the good that comes with mutilating girls.
The call is thus for men’s involvement, disliking the vice is not good enough, speaking against it is fair to go with and acting to stop it would give the best of what humanity is.
WRITTEN BY: BARYAMUJURA MAHAD, Law student and Human Rights Advocate.