Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Where are women’s rights advocates?

HIGH Court judge Justice Kelello Guni last week condemned the resurfacing of ritual murders and the practice of female circumcision in Lesotho.
The judge said while there are worldwide campaigns against female circumcision which resulted in the mutilation of women’s private parts, it was a pity that “there are no such noises in Lesotho”.
We understand the judge’s anger.
Justice Guni made the comment while sentencing three women who fatally assaulted a mentally ill woman at an initiation school in 2005.
While we think the 10-year-jail sentence was a slap on the wrist, it is the judge’s comments about female genital mutilation that need further interrogation by the government and women’s rights activists.
The case could also be used to unravel what really happens at these initiation schools and smash the “culture of silence” that is associated with these practices.
The practice of female genital mutilation, so common in West Africa and the Middle East, has been universally condemned as backward and barbaric.
Surprisingly, though, it continues to find backers here in Lesotho for reasons often associated with the preservation of “tradition and culture”.
In certain countries it is a religious requirement while in others it is done in the misguided belief that it helps curb women’s sexual desire.
The understanding is that this will make young girls remain virgins before marriage.
The mutilation is often done without any anaesthetics.
The result is that young girls and women are often subjected to immense trauma.
Any human being with a conscience should feel some compassion for these victims.
The victims of the practice suffer permanent damage for life and often struggle during childbirth.
They also often complain of lack of feeling during sexual intimacy.
It is no surprise that this barbaric practice has been condemned worldwide as an affront to women’s dignity.
What is surprising though is that such practices are still taking place in Lesotho, often in the name of “culture”.
Like all concerned Basotho, we are compelled to ask: “Where are the women’s rights groups to speak out against such practices?”
There is certainly nothing “cultural” about this practice and we urge the government and civil society to roll out a nationwide campaign to discourage such mutilation.
Basotho must move with the times and discard cultural practices that stand in the way of progress.
And female genital mutilation is one of these.
The key to stopping such practices lies in education.
Women must break the culture of silence and reveal what really happens at these initiation schools.
This probably explains why no one came forward to testify in court as to what really happened to Matseliso Mokhothatsi, the victim whose genitals were mutilated at the initiation school.
We are disappointed that the case has been met with deafening silence by women’s groups.
Where on earth are they?
Women must reject this culture of acquiescence that ultimately harms their interests.
Unless they speak out and condemn such practices as barbaric the fight for equality and justice for women will remain in dire straits in Lesotho.

Comments are closed.