KNIVES OF SEBEI Women, Ritual and Power. Sabiny Perception on Female Genital Mutilation and Advocacy Programs.
For hundreds of years, the Sabiny have performed female circumcision as a cultural practice that initiates adolescent girls into adulthood/womanhood. However in the recent past, the community has come under sharp criticism from the Ugandan government and other concerned parties such as non-governmental organizations. The government has even gone a step further and criminalized the practice. Nevertheless, this has not deterred the Sabiny from performing female circumcision every even year. Therefore, in this study I explore the reasons why female circumcision is continually practiced among the Sabiny despite the sensitization done by the government and different non-governmental organizations to show this community the dangers of the practice. Among the Sabiny, the practice is termed as wonsetibik while the WHO describes the practice as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female genitalia whether for cultural or other therapeutic reasons”. The research was guided by three goals which included, analysing the power dynamics behind female circumcision, examining the perception of the Sabiny towards female circumcision and finally to analyse the conflict between traditional societal structures and external forces such as the Ugandan Law and Advocacy programs. The study was carried out in May-June 2013 in Kapchorwa district in Uganda among the Sabiny residents of London Bridge. The informants included the clergy (Church leaders), advocacy programs (REACH), women, men and a focused group discussion of students from Kapchorwa PTC. The data was collected using methods like interviews, document analysis and participant observation. In this study, I argue that indeed female circumcision is part of the Sabiny culture and it is their right to preserve it. However, given the dangers and risks that are associated with the practice, I propose that both government and the Sabiny community should come to a round table and discuss alternative cultural practices that can serve as rites of passage for the girl child without putting her life at risk, and to put into consideration the girl child’s future.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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