Uganda Bans Female Mutilation

December 12, 2009

The Uganda parliament has unanimously passed a bill banning female genital mutilation, a practice mostly used in the northeastern region of the country.

Female mutilation, or female circumcision, involves the removal of a female’s clitoris or other genital parts at a very young age in hopes of ensuring virginity and in preparation for marriage. Critics say it prevents pleasure for women during sexual intercourse, leads to complications during childbirth and increases other health risks such as infection and bleeding.

Anyone convicted of female circumcision may face up to10 years in jail, or a life sentence if a victim dies as a result of the surgery.

In some countries FGM is seen as a way to ensure virginity (BBC)

MP Alice Alaso told the BBC’s Focus on Africa program that, “It’s a very bad practice. It’s cruel, it traumatizes people, it’s led children to drop out of school, it’s a health hazard.  This is a warning signal – whoever dares practice female genital mutilation will be subject to the law.”

And another MP, Lulume Bayiga, said the ‘law would liberate both men and women – who often face being ostracised for shunning the custom.’

Uganda’s shadow health minister, Francis Epetait, told AFP, “This operation is so painful, so cruel, and these so-called surgeons are paid to do it.  I supported the bill with all my strength and heart.”

In 2007, the United Nations passed a resolution which labeled female genital mutilation “irreparable, irreversible abuse” and deemed it  a violation of the rights of women.   The United Nations estimates that 100 to 140 million women worldwide are victims of female mutilation.

Rwanda has declared a war on government corruption and has fined and jailed more than four of the country’s top leaders to prove they mean business.

The UK’s Telegraph writes, “Most African governments like talking about their fight against corruption, seen as one of the biggest barriers to development on the continent, but Rwanda, most notably for the past two years, has been putting its money where its mouth is.”


According to AFP, close to 1,000 people have been investigated for corruption in this small central African nation.

Rwanda ranked top amongst central and eastern African countries and 89th worldwide in the 2009 report of Transparency International, which compares the anti-corruption efforts of 180 countries.

The chief prosecutor for Rwanda, Martin Ngoga, is leading the crusade against economic and financial crimes in politics.

Ngoga, despite the high praise from world organizations, states,  “I am keen not to be complacent about our very modest achievements. Even if Transparency International says that Rwanda is less corrupt, it is not a very good position. It is still a comparison among the corrupt.”

Rwanda’s Commonwealth Bid

November 26, 2009

Rwanda’s application to join the Commonwealth will be decided on at the end of this week.  It has been almost a year since the country applied to join the international grouping dominated by ex- British colonies in January 2008.  And there seems to be debate on how smoothly the vote to include Rwanda at the summit in Trinidad and Tobago will proceed.

In an article in Rwanda’s The New Times they report that ‘reliable sources say that all member states unanimously support Rwanda joining the group mainly composed of former British colonies.’

Meanwhile, AllAfrica.com’s John Allen blogs that New Delhi-based Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) writes, “Rwanda does not satisfy the test of Commonwealth values.  There are considerable doubts about the commitment of the current regime to human rights and democracy. It has not hesitated to use violence at home or abroad when it has suited it.”

Despite the issue of human rights violations, Canada is backing the admittance of Rwanda.  A spokesperson for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department told AFP, “Canada would welcome the admission of Rwanda to the Commonwealth.”

There are currently 53 countries in the Commonwealth, which gives an equal platform to small and large nations to lobby for trade deals, influence world powers and leaders such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).

But Daniel Howden of The Independent alludes that there may have another reason for the African country wanting to become the 54 member of the Commonwealth. Blame over responsibility for the 1994 Rwanda genocide has caused France and Rwanda to severe ties over accusations of the others involvement, which ultimately led Rwanda to boycott the French language in support of English.  Howden reports in an article entitled ‘It’s really about Kigali getting back at Paris’ that “one cabinet minister in the capital, Kigali, was heard to remark that Rwanda must be allowed into the Commonwealth club of English-speaking nations because “French is a dying language and we want to be part of a living language”.