A 33-YEAR-OLD woman from Binga, who was desperate to conceive, died after bleeding for more than a week following a botched circumcision during which her husband’s grandmother cut off parts of her genitalia.
Sources said it was a cultural belief in parts of the district that long labia lead to the development of fibroids and failure to conceive. Villagers often circumcise women by cutting off parts of their external genitalia to deal with the problem.
Police arrested 71-year-old Matha Muzamba of Lingani Muleya’s homestead, Dongamusi village under chief Sinakome after she cut off Selina Mugande’s labia resulting in her death.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Siphiwe Makonese said the circumcision was done on August 31 and Mugande died on September 8. “At around 12 midday, Mugande approached her grandmother-in-law and asked her to help her to get pregnant.
“As is customary in their culture, the grandmother in-law took a razor blade and cut some flesh from Mugande’s private parts,” she said. Insp Makonese said the ‘surgical operation’ resulted in Mugande bleeding continuously, but she did not seek medical attention after being told that the wound would heal in time.
Unable to bear it any longer, said the police spokesperson, on September 3, Selina advised her mother Georgina Mugande and cousin sister Laiza Mudenda about her situation. Insp Makonese said two days later, Mugande went to the clinic where she was treated and discharged.
“However, her condition deteriorated resulting in her death three days later at her husband’s homestead. She had lost a lot of blood,” she said. Insp Makonese warned members of the public to desist from resorting to traditional ways of rectifying medical conditions such as fibroids, saying they should seek professional help at clinics and hospitals.
“Following the recent incident which involved genital mutilation, we’re concerned with the public’s continued use of traditional means which aren’t medically safe to treat their ailments. In an event that one discovers that they’ve fibroids, they should seek professional help at health institutions instead of endangering their lives by resorting to unsafe surgical operations,” she said.
Muzamba is expected to appear in court soon, though the charge preferred against her is not yet clear. Female circumcision or genital mutilation is illegal in most parts of the world. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly recognised the practice as a human rights violation.
Female genital mutilation reportedly persists in more than 20 African countries despite efforts to stamp it out.