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General News of Monday, 26 January 2004

Source: GNA

Woman, 70, jailed for female circumcision

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Bolgatanga, Jan. 26, GNA - A circuit court at Bawku last week sentenced a 70-year-old woman to five years' imprisonment for circumcising seven girls at Yelogu in the Bawku East District. The presided judge, Mr Jacob Boon jailed Abampoaka Mbawini, a native of Koloku near Bawku on her own plea of guilty.

Prosecuting, Detective Sergeant Lawrence Amanquandor said Mbawini was arrested on January 8, following a tip-off that she had performed female circumcision on a number of girls, including a 16-year-old girl named Sharatu Issifu at Yelogo.

He said the accused led the police to the house of Sharatu Issifu and identified the girl as one of her victims. Subsequently, Sharatu was sent to the Bawku Hospital for medical examination, the results of which confirmed that the clitoris and the inner lips of her vagina had been cut off.

In his judgement, Mr Boon said he was compelled to jail the accused for five years, despite her advanced age because she had admitted knowledge of the offence and yet went ahead to commit it.

He said the sentenced was to serve as a deterrent to other practitioners of the outmoded custom that the law would not deal leniently with anyone who continued to perpetuate it.

Commenting on the conviction of Madam Mbawini, the Executive Director of a Tamale-based local NGO, Centre for Human Rights Education and Advocacy, Mr Issah Mahmadu, said the conviction was a clear indication that the fight against female circumcision in the country was yielding positive results.

He told the GNA in an interview at Bolgatanga that his organisation, which was committed to the eradication of female genital circumcision (FGM) in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions, would continue to collaborate with local communities, the law enforcement agencies and the courts to achieve this objective.

Mr Mahmadu commended the Bawku police, the District Assembly, the judiciary and health authorities for working courageously together to eradicate the practice in the area.

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