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Uganda parliament outlaws female genital mutilation

[JURIST] The Ugandan Parliament [official website] voted unanimously Thursday to outlaw [press release] female genital mutilation (FGM) [UN backgrounder]. Under the new legislation [AFP report], anyone who conducts the procedure faces a 10-year prison sentence, and anyone convicted of aggravated FGM faces life imprisonment. Aggravated FGM would include situations where the woman dies, is disabled, or is infected with HIV/AIDS. Human rights groups have welcomed the legislation [BBC report] but have also urged education campaigns to ensure that the practice is stopped. The bill must now be signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni [official profile].

FGM is not widely practiced in Uganda but does occasionally occur in the northeastern part of the country. According to the UN, approximately 2 million girls undergo FGM every year, with Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, and the Sudan accounting for 75 percent of all cases. Consequences can include prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility, and death. In 2007, the UN passed a resolution [materials] calling for an end to the practice.

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