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FGM Ruined My Dream of Becoming A Pilot-Pokot Girl :: Uganda Radionetwork

FGM Ruined My Dream of Becoming A Pilot-Pokot Girl

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According to Cherop, she was in primary five at Kalas girl’s primary school in Amudat town in 2009 when was forced to undergo FGM. Cherop explains that she was interested in operating big planes and travel to as far as Britain and Egypt but her dream.
22 Feb 2021 09:04
Jane Cherop prepairing to farment local brew in Amudat town council.
Jane Cherop had a dream of becoming a pilot. However, forcing her to undergo Female Genital Mutilation-FGM, a practice that is common among the Pokot in Amudat district ruined her dream.

"… I did not want anything that would make me bleed wasting my blood especially Female Genital Mutilation. However, I was forced to go through the FGM practices by my parents,” said 20-year- Cherop.

According to Cherop, she was in primary five at Kalas girl’s primary school in Amudat town in 2009 when was forced to undergo FGM. Cherop explains that she was interested in operating big planes and travel to as far as Britain and Egypt but her dream.

“I had the hope of reaching the Secondary level and concentrate on Geography, Physics, Mathematics and chemistry to fulfil my dream,” she said. Cherop, who is currently married with three children, believes that she would have achieved her dream if she was in boarding school. She recalls that around 5 pm on July 23, 2019 she returned home and went to collect water with her sister from a spring well oblivious to her parent’s plans.

According to Cherop, as they approached the spring, they met three old women who asked them to undress. Cherop says that she tried to resist but her father threatened to hack her to death with a machete unless she accepts to undergo FGM.  “When I saw my dad with a sharp panga I got paralyzed and the time I was circumcised together with my sister, I did not know because I had collapsed. I realized serious pain when I was in the house at home,” she noted.   

According to Cherop, after the circumcision and being stitched their legs were tied together for five years to allow them to recover. She says that they were stopped from drinking too much water to prevent frequent urination to allow the wounds to heal very fast.  Cherop explains that upon their recovery, her sister was taken to Kenya to stay with their aunt while she remained at home with the hope of returning to school in vain. 

Her parents had made arrangements to marry her off to a 64-year-old man in exchange for 40 cows. “I didn't know how to start a family, how to live with a man but I was forced, “she narrated. Cherop says that her sister, who was taken to stay with her aunt in Kenya, also conceived and died while giving birth resulting from the FGM complications. She says that the stitched part obstructed the child from passing. 

According to Cherop, even while giving her childbirth, she felt difficulties but was lucky that she was near the hospital and was operated on. She says that when their parents heard about the death of her sister due to delivery complications they did not believe it because they are literate. 

Cherop says that she did not continue with her marriage after being operated on because her husband rejected her, saying that she has bad luck in marriage. She now makes local brew to support her family. According to Cherop, she is still uncomfortable seeing her parents because they ruined her future. “Up to now when I see aeroplanes. I recall my dream and feel like crying,” she said.

Cherop’s prayer is that if there is any organization that can help, she is ready to study any case, which can help her to earn a living and take care of her four children. She asks girls in Pokot and Sebei region to try their level best to reject FGM to avoid the suffering she has gone through.   

Gilbert Odongo, the headteacher Karita Community Primary school in Amudat district, says FGM has forced so many children to drop out of school. He says most schools in Amudat and Sebei register a good number of children right from P.1 to P.3 but the number of girls begins reducing when they reach P.5 to P.7 because of FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris.

Some of the people who practise it believe that circumcised women remain faithful when they get married. They also claim that the practice preserves the virginity of the young and stops adultery among married women. Apart from Uganda, the practice is also rampant in some countries of Africa and Asia. 

In Uganda, authorities say the number of girls mutilated in 2019 increased from 550 to 820. This lends credence to the fact that the practice is still alive despite its ban in 2010 by the government of Uganda. FGM offenders face 10 years in prison, but if the girl or woman dies during the act, those involved get a life sentence.    

Cost implication of FGM.

According to Dr. Patrick Sagaki  the Medical Superintendent of Amudat hospital, the practices causes very many complications in the woman’s private parts such as urinary retention, injury to the adjacent tissue of the urethra, perineum and rectum, fracture or dislocation resulting from forceful holding down of a woman or girls.

Dr. Sagaki  says that other long term complications associated with FGM include multiple keloids of the vulva cyst, clitoral neuroma and psychological and sexual complications because the vagina is stitched also spreading of HIV/Aids since the local surgeons are using one knife for cutting more than 100 women and girls. 

Francis Kiyonga, the Amudat LC V chairperson, says the practise is still alive in the district. According to Kiyonga, the surgeons have decided to change the time of cutting girls from April and June to December under the cover of girls going to celebrate Christmas. "What I can tell you is that the practice is affecting the education of our girl child but we are fighting against it seriously," he said.    

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