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FGM fight turns to use of films

As the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) intensifies, key players and activists have turned to use of video footage to mitigate FGM in the communities where it is still being practiced.  

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Uganda Media Women’s Association last week trained youth activists from the countries in which FGM is practiced in filmmaking as a way of curbing the vice.

The ten-day workshop at Kolping hotel had participants walk away with skills and equipment that would aid their work against a practice that has become a global human rights issue.

Margaret Masagazi, the UMWA executive director, hailed the initiative. “There is need for a multi-media intervention in order to end FGM,” she said.

Susan Muwanga, who represented the minister of Gender, urged the stakeholders to intensify the fight against FGM.

“This collaboration between the different actors needs to continue and strengthened further so that FGM can be dealt with,” she said.

Female genital mutilation is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. According to health experts, FGM has immediate and long-term mental and physical health effects, including severe pain, extensive bleeding, tetanus, infection, cysts and abscesses, and sexual dysfunction. FGM harms women's physical and emotional health throughout their lives yet it has no known health benefits.

The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In 2016, Unicef estimated that 200 million women living today in 30 countries; 27 African countries, Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen, have undergone the procedure. Furthermore, there are an estimated three million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.

In Uganda, according to the 2011 Demographic Health Survey, the estimated prevalence of FGM in girls and women aged 15 to 49 years is 1.4 per cent. There are regional variations in prevalence with the highest rates occurring in Karamoja at 4.5 per cent.

This rate, according to activists, is going down even though the figures remain high in the communities where FGM is practiced. Gloria Chelangat, one of the participants, is hopeful that videos will help curb the vice in the Sebei region.

“With the skills and equipment, I can make films about FGM and sensitize the community against it,” she said.

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