Written by Charles Ugwu
Tuesday, 19th June, 2017 will always be remembered in the annals of the campaign for the total abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Nigeria. Not just that a public declaration was made, but also it was the first of it’s kind since the campaign began so many years ago to end FGM/C in Nigeria.
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is “the all procedures involving the total or partial removal of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons” (WHO, 1997).
It is majorly performed in many quarters for the socialization of women, curbing their sexual appetites (erroneously), preparing them for marriage and also for ritual initiation into womanhood.
Despite it’s cultural importance however, FGM/C has drawn considerable criticism because of the potential for both short- and long-term medical complications, as well as harm to reproductive health and infringement of women rights
It may interest you to know that Ebonyi state with a prevalent rate of 74% ranks 2nd highest most prevalent state in the practice of FGM/C in Nigeria, coming behind Osun state-77% (NDHS, 2013).
Many thanks to government, partnering agencies (UNICEF, UNFPA, CPN Et cetera), stakeholders, religious leaders, volunteers, and indeed the general public for their concerted efforts within and outside the state towards reversing this harmfull trend.
Unfortunately, FGM/C being a social norm and because of the interdependent nature of all social norms has been notably difficult for single individuals or families in Ebonyi state and beyond to abandon on their own for fears of social exclusion.
Interestingly however, public declaration/community declaration is that moment of social recognition which shows that most people in the community support FGM/C abandonment and most likely will abandon it.
Happily, Izzi clan which represents 3 (Abakaliki, Ebonyi and Izzi) out of 13 LGAs in Ebonyi state decided to be the first to make this move. Perhaps this re-affirms the earlier submission that 19th June, 2017 was indeed one of the happiest day in the lives of all those who has consistently campaigned for an end to FGM/C in Nigeria and the world at large. The event was largely attended by various individuals and groups from all walks of life. It is hoped that other communities nationwide will emulate the footprints of the Izzi clan.