June 21, 2012
Storm brews over forced circumcision in UgandaBy Godfrey Olukya
The Ugandan town of Mbale was brought to a standstill on Tuesday afternoon, as a naked man ran through the streets, with more than 50 men in pursuit. He was fleeing a forced circumcision.
Only identified as Deo, the man sought sanctuary from the Resident District Administrator, as the men and a local scalpel-wielding surgeon gave chase.
Deo survived the forced circumcision after guards at the administrator's office were able to disperse his assailants, but that was not before other men had fallen victim to the enforced surgical operation.
More than 40 men of various ages have been subjected to the cut in the last two days, as the town goes through a general circumcision programme, but this has faced widespread protests.
Mbale is mainly inhabited by the Bamasaba tribe, which prescribes circumcision to all males from the age of 15, and those who do not undergo the cut are forcefully circumcised.
However, it has emerged that the 40 men who were forcefully circumcised are not of the Bamasaba tribe, but rather were forced to undergo the operation, as they either had Bamasaba wives or girlfriends.
"Since they sleep with our sisters and daughters, we felt they had to be circumcised like the rest of us," Gerald Wambedde, an advocate of forced circumcisions, said.
The leader of the exercise, Badru Wasike said the circumcision exercise was both a cultural and health exercise.
"We are helping those who feared getting circumcised through cultural processes. We are aware that circumcised men do not easily get infected with HIV/Aids. Since they love our relatives we want them to be safe," he explained.
But this has raised a wave of protests in the town, 400 kilometres east of the capital, Kampala with some saying the forced circumcisions were inhuman.
"Men were told to unzip on the streets to ascertain whether they had been circumcised. That is not only unfair but also inhuman," a human rights activist, Mbale,Keneth Mabonga, said.
The RDC has responded by banning forced circumcision and has instructed local police to arrest anyone suspected of enforcing the said cultural rite.
Culturally, the Bamasaba hold circumcision ceremonies every two years.
Those to be circumcised, as a rite of passage, undergo rituals including dancing half naked, while their bodies are smeared with ash.
New Vision (Uganda)
June 20, 2012
Forceful circumcision in Mbale: Police fire teargasBy Paul Watala
Police in Mbale have fired teargas and deployed heavily to disperse hooligans forcefully circumcising people on the streets including non-Bamasaba.
The District Police Commander, Michael Angucia Wednesday vowed to crack down the hooligans who are causing insecurity in the town.
“I am not trying to fight the culture of the Bamasaba but the way the practice is handled may cause tribal conflicts. Several people have fled the town, property robbed and business is being paralyzed,” Angucia said.
“We have deployed on the streets to arrest the hooligans,” Angucia added.
He said that several groups of such people have taken advantage of the cultural festival of the Bamasaba to force whoever they suspect to have not been circumcised.
Angucia said that due to public outcry from the people and local leaders, police had no alternative but to provide security on the streets to restore serenity in town, adding that some people have fled town and abandoned business in Mbale main garage.
It is estimated that a total number of about 220 people have been circumcised from the time the exercise began date.
Dr. Jaffer Balyejjusa a senior Consultant surgeon Mbale regional Referral Hospital condemned the act of forceful circumcision.
He said that so far they have received two cases where the victims had been circumcised badly putting lives in danger.
Bamasaba cultural board chairperson, Augustine Wandende condemned the act of forcing people who are not Bamasaba into circumcision without their consent and appealed to the authorities to take action against the culprits.
[Would this have happened if Drs Gray, Quinn, Wawer etc. ha not assured Ugandans that circumcision is wonderful?]