WHATSAPP CONFERENCE SCRIPT: The End Of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) In Nigeria

I want to believe we must have heard of Female Genital Mutilation, which some people call Female Genital Cutiing or Female Circumcision. For the sake of those that don’t know that FGM exist or for the sake of those who just found out , today we will present  some facts about FGM and how to end the practice. Trust me, if we all put to practice what we get to learn tonight, we can end FGM in Nigeria in this generation.

Permit me start with a brief introduction of the subject matter Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

According to WHO, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.. FGM can have severely adverse effects on the physical, mental and psychosocial well being of those who undergo the procedure.

Female genital mutilation is a social ritual that is prevalent in 30 countries in Africa and in a few countries in Asia and the Middle East. It is now present across the globe due to international migration. The World Health Organisation (2016) estimates that globally 200 million girls and women living with or at risk of suffering the associated negative health consequences.

FGM/C is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers and untrained village midwives who use instruments such as knives, razors or even broken glass. The instruments are often not sterile and the ritual is very often performed in unsanitary conditions. It is mostly done to girls between age 1-15years.In some occasions during pregnancy, shortly before childbirth or in adolescence as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.

Some families prefer to visit health-care providers (mostly Nurses/Midwves) to perform FGM,. This is called Medicalization of FGM, and refers to situations in which FGM/C is practiced by any category of health care provider, whether in a public or a private clinic, at home or elsewhere.Many of these people believe that FGM procedure is safer when it is perfumed by health-care providers.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO)has stated that Medicalization of FGM is never acceptable because this violates medical ethics since

(i) FGM is a harmful practice;

(ii) medicalization perpetuates FGM; and

(iii) the risks of the procedure outweigh any perceived benefit.

 Types of FGM in Nigeria

The World Health Organisation has classified FGM into four types, and they are all practiced in Nigeria .

Type I or Clitoridectomy: It involves the Partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) &, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).

Type II (Excision) is partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina)..

Type III (infibulation) is the most severe form of FGM. It involves the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris. A tiny opening is created to allow for menstrual flow and urine.

Type IV or  unclassified: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, pulling, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.It also includes  introduction of corrosive substances and herbs in the vagina, and other forms. In some communities, in Nigeria, they try to push the clitoris back into the body or apply herbs, petroleum jelly, menthol ointments, or hot water to make the clitoris numb. This is called “MASSAGING”.

Note: For more information on basic facts about FGM visit www.endcuttinggirls.org

FGM and women’s rights

FGM is recognized globally as the violation of human rights of girls and women. FGM is an extreme form of discrimination against women as it is performed mostly with the aim of curtailing women’s sexual attitudes and controlling reproduction (Type III or Infibulation).  It also reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes.

FGM is a form of Gender Based Violence (GBV). FGM violates a series of well-established human rights principles, norms and standards, including the principles of equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, the right to life when the procedure results in death, and the right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as the rights of the child. As it interferes with healthy genital tissue in the absence of medical necessity and can lead to severe consequences for a woman’s physical and mental health, FGM is also a violation of a person’s right to the highest attainable standard of health. Furthermore, girls usually undergo the practice without their informed consent, depriving them of the opportunity to make independent decision about their bodies.The WHO estimates that 200 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the negative consequences of FGM (WHO 2016)

Reasons why communities perform FGM:

  1. Sexuality – FGM is used to preserve the virginity of a woman till she is married.
  2. Marriageability – By preserving her virginity, it is assumed that her chances of being solicited for marriage increases.
  3. Economic empowerment – FGM is an income‐generating activity, stopping the practice will put a significant number of people out of work. The practitioners are revered and their status invokes a level of power and authority in the community.
  4. Tradition – FGM is seen as a way to preserve and continue a set of values and rituals passed on from one generation to the next.
  5. Rite of passage – FGM is a symbol from girlhood into womanhood. Unless it is done, a woman is seen as incomplete.
  6. Religion – FGM is seen as an instruction from God, one that must be followed (for example some families perform FGM on the 8th day after birth, because they have mistaken it with the Biblical injunction for Christians to circumcise their sons on the 8th
  7. Cultural aesthetic reasons –Female genitals are considered ugly, unclean and unattractive
  8. Myths and beliefs: some communities believe that the clitoris contains powers strong enough to 1) Kill a baby during childbirth, 2) Damage a man’s reproductive organ during sexual intercourse, 3) grow long enough to compete with a man’s reproductive organ

EFFECTS OF FGM

Beyond the obvious initial pain of the procedure, the long-term physiological, sexual and

Psychological effects of FGM are well documented. The consequences can even include death as a result of shock, hemorrhage or septicemia.

Long-term complications include loss of libido, genital malformation, delayed menarche, chronic pelvic complications and recurrent urinary retention and infection. FGM survivors are also prone to a number of obstetric complications because the fetus is exposed to a range of infectious diseases and faces the risk of having its head crushed in the damaged birth canal.

Infibulated women, whose genitals have been tightly closed, have to be cut open to allow the baby to emerge. Infibulation is also linked to menstrual and urination disorders, recurrent bladder/urinary tract infections, fistulae and infertility. The repeated cutting and re-stitching of a woman’s genitals with each birth can result in tough scar tissue.

FGM Situation in Nigeria

FGM remains widespread in Nigeria with regional and ethnic variations in prevalence. According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2016 -2017), 18.4% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM/C, which is a decrease from 27% in 2011.  Worrisomely, the prevalence among daughters aged 0-14 years increased from 19.2% (2011) to 25.3% (2016-2017).  In addition, 21.6% of women surveyed were in support of the continuation of FGM/C, a very slight decrease from 21.8% in 2011.

What is being done to end FGM in Nigeria

From 2014 to 2017, Phase II of the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM Abandonment (UNJP) was implemented in Nigeria.  The project is taking place in five States that had the highest FGM prevalence based on the 2013 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (Osun-77%, Ebonyi-74%, Ekiti-72%, Imo-68%, and Oyo-66%) The goal was to contribute to the acceleration of the total abandonment of FGM within a generation in line with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/67/146 to “intensify global efforts to eliminate female genital mutilations”.  To achieve this goal, the Government of Nigeria in collaboration with UNFPA, UNICEF and in partnership with Civil Society Organizations implemented a common coordinated national response to contribute to the elimination of FGM/C.  During the 4-years period, the UNJP supported policy formulation, institutional strengthening, service delivery and community-based activities in five states, namely, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun, and Oyo.

In order to contribute to the elimination of harmful practices as proposed by Target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UNJP has commenced Phase III (2018-2021). The vision of Phase III is to “contribute to the elimination of FGM by 2030”.  The goal is “to accelerate efforts towards the reduction of FGM, fulfilling the rights of girls and women by realizing social and gender norms transformation by 2021”.  The Phase III has four expected outcomes, namely,

Outcome 1: Countries have an enabling environment for the elimination of FGM practices at all levels and in line with human rights standards.

Outcome 2: Girls and women are empowered to exercise and express their rights by transforming social and gender norms in communities to eliminate FGM.

Outcome 3: Girls and women access appropriate, quality and systemic services for FGM prevention, protection and care.

Outcome 4: Countries have better capacity to generate and use evidence and data for policymaking and improving programming.

The launch of Phase III in January 2018 marks a critical juncture and opportunity to consolidate the considerable gains made by the programme in the last four years, in Nigeria, while also addressing the growing number of girls and women affected by and at risk of FGM.

What role can we play in supporting the UNJP Phase III to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria?

1. Using Social Media?

Having stated the types, consequences and myths behind FGM and the importance of the social media, let’s just take a few ways the youth can use the social media to end female genital mutilation (FGM)

2. Creating Awareness

3. Boldly standing against female genital mutilation

4. Organize event which is centered towards ending FGM/C

For examples every last Friday of the month is known as Frown Challenge Fridays (FCF) and to partake in this contest/ challenge, all you have to do is upload a pics of your frown and use the hashtag and write your opinion on FGM, its been on for a while now, you can join also. Another example is the weekly tweet conference on twitter every Thursday by 5pm.

5. Share Pictures and words on marble centered towards #endcuttinggirls

Note: To learn more about the Endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM Elimination, and other discussions around FGM, visit our website www.endcuttinggirls.org or follow our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls

6. Advocacy Visit to Special and important personnel and stakeholders in the community

For example, in January 2018, a lady JolaOluwa (winner of UNICEF Frown Challenge in August 2017) visited  a philanthropist who sponsors FGM in Kwara State, after he advertised on Facebook.  Trust me after the advocacy visit, the man saw reasons why he needs to stop supporting FGM and why he needed to join the campaign against FGM.  He is now advocating for the end of FGM in Kwara State.

7. Standing to protect the right of a girl child about to be cut.

Whenever we get any information about a girl child about to be cut, in order to protect the child, we have to raise our voice as keeping quiet might lead to an increase in the number of the girls been cut. For example, it can be posted on social media, if can be reported to organization that protect human right such as Child Protection Network or any Anti-FGM or Anti/GBV organization.

8. Partnership with School clubs in Secondary Schools to Organize events in the school with respect to the campaign.

Last term we were in some secondary schools in Ekiti state and we got to discover not all of this students know about FGM, some of them are cut but don’t know its no longer acceptable. I remember after talking to them, they were willing to organize events with respect o ending FGM, some said they would love to take a walk round the town with placards with #endcuttinggirls written boldly. A school even promised to always make a talk against cutting girls as their closing remark when casting news in the school.

While we wait for the questions, Are You aware of the Frown Challenge?

Frown challenge is a monthly Instagram contest where contestants get to snap a pics (you are expected to be frowning, which means you are not in support of FGM), then you write a poem/ an article on ending FGM, remember to add #endcuttinggirls and #Frownchallenge. This challenge comes every last Friday of the month.

Also be informed that every Thursday of the week by 5pm we have a tweet conference on twitter using the hashtag #endcuttinggirls.

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