Many rituals are performed to prepare a girl for marriage in Uganda. In most tribes, this role is mainly played by the girl’s paternal aunty. Some of the rituals are very painful and are done as soon as a girl becomes an adolescent.
Being a Munyankole girl, Eunice Musiime had to get ready for the rituals as soon as she made 11 years. When her aunt approached her, however, Musiime did not get a satisfying reason as to why she had to elongate her labia, a cultural practice commonly known as ‘visiting the bush’. Scared of the pain that comes along with it, she rejected it. But she kept wondering about what would really happen to her since her peers warned that, because of her refusal, she would never get married.She became more skeptical about whatever they would tell her because she failed to see any link between the two. Today, she says she is happily married.
Musiime who today doubles as the chairperson of the Federation of Uganda Women Lawyers (FIDA) and the Executive Director of a women’s organisation – Akiina Mama waAfrika, says this practice which is still widely done mostly among the Banyankole and Baganda is a violation of human rights that is often ignored. She says for many girls it is not a conscious decision.
Musiime is a human rights lawyer and ardent policy analyst with over 13 years experience working to promote gender equality, human rights, and social justice. She says feminism has been misunderstood as making women unruly yet it’s only about seeking to close a gap between males and females in social, economic, and political areas.
“The key issue about feminism is equality. In most African societies men are taken as privileged yet women are inferior. That’s what we work to eliminate.”