The Ugandan parliament unanimously passed a bill banning female genital mutilation, a traditional rite that has sparked an international outcry and is practiced in some African and Asian communities.
The practice, which involves cutting off a girl's clitoris, is also called female circumcision. In some communities in eastern Uganda, it is practiced in girls up to age 15.
Convicted offenders face 10 years in prison, but if the girl dies during the act, those involved will get a life sentence, according to officials in the east African country.
"A majority of Ugandans felt it is a disgusting act, but you have to remember that this is a cultural belief that has been practiced for generations," said Fred Opolot, the government spokesman. "That's what took the bill so long to pass."
Human rights activists have decried the practice, which they say poses major health risks for girls and may lead to death. It also causes complications during sex and child birth, activists say.
More on the bad news from Uganda here and here.
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