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Uganda bans female genital mutilation

Dec. 12, 2009 at 2:39 PM

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Female genital mutilation has been outlawed in Uganda under a bill passed unanimously by the Parliament, lawmakers said.

Ugandans convicted of the practice, also known as female circumcision, face up to 10 years in prison. If a girl dies from the surgery, which involves cutting off the clitoris to reduce sexual feeling, convicted offenders would be sentenced to life in prison.

"A majority of Ugandans felt it is a disgusting act, but you have to remember that this is a cultural belief that has been practiced for generations," government spokesman Fred Opolot told CNN in a story published Saturday.

The bill passed late Thursday could be amended to include compensation for victims of genital mutilation, said Alice Alaso, a member of Parliament.

"Our goal is to protect these girls, and we will continue to do so," she said.

An estimated 3 million women and girls are subjected to genital mutilation annually in Africa, Asia, India, Indonesia and Malayasia, United Nations documents said.

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