Mr. Speaker, I do respect your caution to me. But Mr. Speaker, I think that if we are looking at the law which is being taken from our Constitution and which law borders on tradition, I would wish that we look at it
a little more carefully.
Mr. Speaker, female genital mutilation definitely impacts on the lives of the women who have to go through that practice. It also impacts on the lives of babies who would be born by these women and I definitely have had a lot of experience repairing the injuries caused because of this practice.
But Mr. Speaker, that is not to say because of the time and the energies that we have had to spend repairing the damages caused to the genital parts of these women we would have to enact a law that is going to put people in prison for well up to 25 years.
Mr. Speaker, we are criminalising a traditional practice, but we must also appreciate that it is a traditional practice; it is not a wilful cause. The person who was practising it did not wilfully decide that, “I am going to cause injury and pain to somebody”. They had seen it over the years as a practice, tradition, and that is why they were doing it. The framers of our Constitution in their wisdom saw the need to outlaw this practice. We as legislators have now been given the opportunity to come out with a law, a reasonable law, that would make it unattractive to practise female genital mutilation.
Mr. Speaker, because of the genesis, where the thing is coming from, we do not have to look at it without maybe tampering it with a little knowledge of custom. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, in spite of the fact that yes, I have noticed the impact of the practice on women, on babies who are to be born through these genital paths, the injuries on the women, especially making life so difficult for them -- In fact, their social life tends to be shattered. Fortunately now, doctors in this country have the capacity to repair some of the injuries done to these women.
In spite of these, Mr. Speaker, I would plead with the House to look at this law not from the point of view of punishment but from the point of view of disincentive. We are trying to “disincentivise” the practice of some culture and because we are trying to that we must look at it more carefully. Mr. Speaker, I would rather go for a sentence of a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years -- no more.
Even then, Mr. Speaker, I still think it is a bit too harsh because we need to educate the people. The practice can go down even with education. If you look at the education of our people, if you look at the practice in the educated sections of the area where this custom is practised you would find that it is gradually going down.
So the first thing is to encourage education. If we educate them, this would come down. But then because we do not want it to be practised we put a law in place and let it be known that if you do this practice you are liable to go to prison; and if a person is to go to prison even for three years he would not be happy going to prison by practising this.