TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT ON “Religious Leaders As Advocates For FGM Elimination On Thursday April 26, 2018”

Good evening. Welcome to today’s tweet conference, I am @Charles_clever your anchor, my co-anchors are @Danzychris and @OladeleEsan

Today, we shall be interested in the topic “Religious Leaders as Advocates for FGM Elimination

FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation.

Does FGM have religious backing? If no, can religious leaders in turn lead the campaign for its elimination? Stay tuned!

FGM refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies FGM into 4 types.

Type 1: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).

Type 2: partial or total removal of clitoris and labia minora, with or without excision of & labia majora (excision).

Type 3: narrowing the vaginal opening by appositioning labia minora or labia majora, with/without excision of clitoris (infibulation)

Type 4: unclassified: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, pulling, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

The centuries-old practice of FGM is a social norm, buttressed by underlying gender structures &power relations and deeply rooted in tradition.

8a. FGM is prevalent in 30 countries in Africa and in a few countries in Asia and the Middle East, but also present across the globe due to international migration.

FGM is usually carried out by elderly people in the community (usually, but not exclusively, women) designated to perform this task or by traditional birth attendants

Where it is widely practiced, FGM is supported by both men and women usually without question and anyone that does not follow the norm may face condemnation, harassment and ostracism.

Where FGM is a social norm; it is difficult for families to abandon it without support from the wider community. In these communities, it is often practiced even when it is known to inflict harm upon girls because the perceived social benefits of the practice are deemed higher than its disadvantages.

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

Does FGM has religious backing? Does any religion condone the practice of FGM?

Globally, FGM is practiced among some adherents of the Muslim, Christian, Jewish faiths and some animists’

However, FGM is erroneously linked to religion. FGM it is not particular to any religious faith, and predates Christianity and Islam. At the community level, those who carry out FGM offer a mix of cultural and religious reasons for the practice.

Christians and Muslims alike erroneously believe that circumcision of girls prevents them from promiscuity and makes, them more attractive for future husbands; mothers fear that their daughters cannot get married if they’re uncut

However, FGM is neither mentioned in the Jewish Torah, nor in the Christian Gospels, and – like in Islam – bodily mutilation is condemned by both religions

I will stop here for my colleague @Danzychris to continue. Thank you.

Thank you @Charles_clever for that informative section and welcome to the second segment of today’s conference.

The first references to circumcision in the Bible is in the Book of Genesis 17:10, in which God ordered Abraham to circumcise his sons. It reads “This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. (Genesis 17:10)”

Female circumcision is not mentioned at all in the Bible and is rejected by Christianity for this reason. Moreover, whereas male circumcision does not mutilate the male sex organ, FGM damages the healthy female sex organ and deforms what God has created.

Christianity also repudiates FGM because of its immediate and long-term adverse health effects and refutes claims that female circumcision protects a girl’s chastity before marriage. Christianity believes that virtue cannot be imposed but must be gained by spiritual growth.

The association of FGM with Islam has been refuted by many Muslim scholars, who say that FGM contradicts the “do no harm” principle of Islam. FGM is not prescribed in the Quran and is contradictory to the teachings of Islam.

Today, the Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomar says: “FGM must be stopped in support of one of the highest values of Islam, namely “Accept no harm and do no harm to another.” in accordance with the commandment of the Prophet Mohammed .

Regrettably, some Christians and muslims alike believe that FGM is compulsory for followers of their religion. Because of this flawed linking of FGM to various religions, especially Christianity and Islam, religious leaders have an important role to play in dissociating FGM from religion.

What potential do religious leaders have in facilitating the FGM abandonment process in Nigeria?

Religious leaders have the access, the power and the influence to change things. If we don’t have the support of religious leaders, as advocates, then it may be hard to stop FGM. The power of religion/religious leaders in shaping perceptions and influencing public opinion is well-known.

Religious leaders have led the way in tackling development, gender, and health issues,

Religious leaders can also lead the way to ending FGM.

First and most importantly, Religious leaders should focus on de-linking FGM from religion among their congregations.

Furthermore, the capacities of these religious leaders can be built to speak out against FGM. This will enable them dissuade their members from the harmful practice. Explaining that girl children who do not undergo FGM grows up to be healthy women and no less female than girls who do.

Based on their influence, it would be easier for religious leaders to drum support from religious faithfuls against FGM

I will stop here for my colleague @OladeleEsan to conclude. Please remember to keep you questions coming in from 6:45pm.

Thank you @Danzychris. Good evening all and welcome to the final lap of this conference.

Since many religious faithfuls aspire to adhere to the tenets of their religion, they can also dissociate themselves from FGM if convinced that it’s not supported by their faith.

  • Religious leaders can offer shelter to girls and women that are seeking for temporary accommodation to avoid FGM.
  • Religious leaders can counsel FGM survivors and refer them to other service providers for additional care, such as treatment, care, protection, etc.
  • Religious leaders should mainstream FGM talks into the weekly meetings/gatherings of their congregation

In the Christian community, Clerics should incorporate FGM talks into adults and children Sunday schools classes. Clerics should mainstream FGM talks into Religious Men’s Association activities.

The role of men in driving the end FGM campaign is sacrosanct as key decision makers in families!

Clerics should mainstream FGM talks into Religious Women’s Association activities!

In the Christian community, in Southeast Nigeria, the Annual Women Home and Abroad Meeting (AKA August Meeting), is a good platform to preach an end to FGM

Religious leaders should mainstream FGM talks into Youth Associations Activities!

Moreover, religious leaders must not drive the end FGM campaign alone, they can also invite/partner with other stakeholders working for FGM Elimination

In Nigeria the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint programme on Eliminating FGM is an example of an organ to partner with, etc. They can give such partners the platform to sensitize their members during their routine religious meetings/gatherings.

This partnership will give such stakeholders an already existing platform to drive the ‘End FGM’ message at minimal cost. This is important especially in an era of dwindling financial support from donor agencies to sustain the EndFGM campaign. Hence, Religious leaders taking up the end FGM campaign has a way of ensuring sustainability of the campaign

Religious leaders can also take to media platforms such as Radio, TV, and Newspapers to de-link FGM from religion

Religious leaders can encourage their members to come up with drama episodes on the dangers of and the need to end FGM.

Religious leaders can encourage their youth to use social media to campaign against FGM

Massive End FGM information circulating among religious faithfuls will strike up discussions about ending the harmful practice of FGM

Religious leaders have the potential to fastrack the actualization of zero incidence of FGM dream across the globe

If various religious faithfuls understand clearly that FGM is not linked to their religion, then many adherents will have a change of mindset.

An FGM public declaration not just by cutting communities but by ‘Religious leaders and Groups’ is possible very soon!

Religious leaders should bring the great influence they carry to bear in ending FGM, because changing religious beliefs is key to ending FGM.”

Religious leaders, from different faiths, can organize a conference to address the misconceptions around FGM and Religion, they can also produce a communiqué on ending the practice.

We encourage Muslim, Christian and other religious leaders to exert their influence, to change the views of followers who believe that FGM is necessary and to stop those practicing it.

We have come to the end of today twitter conference. Thanks for Joining us! It’s question time.

Follow our social media handles Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls

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