By Francis Emorut & Carol Kasujja
As the country celebrates Women’s Day, a total of 194 girls in Amudat district have fled their homes fearing to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).
This was revealed by Sister Magdalene Sserebidde, the headmistress of Kalas Catholic Primary School.
The Catholic nun has offered the girls sanctuary in Kalas Catholic Girls Primary School.
Not only are the girls afraid of FGM but also fear early marriage as the parents are desperate of dowry especially the fathers.
“The girls have run away because their parents force them into early marriage,” Sserebidde said
She said 34 girls fled last week to join 160 which fled earlier.
It's a traditional practice to carryout FGM every even number of the year.
According to Sseribidde the girls are being fed by World Food Programme and other well-wishers such as Zoa and Diakonia non-governmental organisations .
The Resident District Commissioner of Amudat, Stephen Bwewayo Nsubuga, told New Vision that his office together with the district leaders is doing their best to sensitize the Pokot communities about the FGM law.
He said as the result of sensitization the practice has reduced as some parents have abandoned the practice fearing that the law will catch up them.
“The change is gradual although they (FGM promoters) do it hiding,” Nsubuga said.
He said the girls who have fled their homes come from the villages of Lopalot, Pamba, Otai, Takebot, Joibe and Ocengenge.
Other villages are Ilarita, Takabot, Opetamoi, Napakoto, Lolot and Napau.
Amudat is a new district that was curved out of Nakapirit district.
Briefing women activists about the girls’ situation Agnes Kabajuni the executive director of Centre for Economic Social Cultural Rights in Africa (CESCRA) appealed to government to take put more efforts to combat FGM.
Kabajuni said about 160 girls started flocking the School in December last year after learning that this year which has an even number is the year of ‘‘cutting’’ girls private parts.
She explained that the Pokot fathers are more interested in marrying out their girls to fetch a dowry of not less than 50 cows.
“The mothers are in contact with the girls who have fled their homes while the fathers are not because they are interested in marrying them of,” Kabajuni told women activists.
She was speaking during Women’s Day celebrations organized by Action for Development in Kampala.
Regina Bafaki, the executive director of Action for Development, appealed to all stakeholders to protect the girl child from FGM practice and instead empower girls with education.
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200 girls in Amudat flee genital mutilation