TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Partnering with Law enforcement agencies to eliminate FGM

We welcome you all to today’s twitter conference to #endcuttinggirls. This conference will last from 5pm – 7pm Nigerian time. We will answer your questions on this topic from 6:20pm.

My name is Purity Oparah(@Lady_Purity5). Michael Olaniyan(@TheCoachMYKE) and I will be your hosts for today’s conference. Our topic today is “Partnering with Law enforcement agencies to eliminate FGM”

Before we proceed, let us first define what FGM means for the sake of those joining the  campaign for the first time.

FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation. It is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

There are four (4) types of female genital mutilation, as classified by the World Health Organisation: Types 1, 2, 3 and 4. ,

Type 1 is partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce also called clitoridectomy.  

Type 2 is partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora. This is also called excision.

Type 3 is the narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris. This is also called Infibulation.

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

FGM violates rights of girls/women, and has immediate and long-term negative effects on their health & general well-being.

FGM is deeply rooted in tradition and persists as a social norm that is upheld by underlying gender structures and power relations.

For additional information on FGM, please visit our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0-dYD9cYKo or website at www.endcuttinggirls.org 

The act of female genital mutilation (FGM) is considered internationally as a violent act against girls and women, and a violation of their human rights

While FGM is not undertaken with the intention of inflicting harm, its damaging physical, sexual, and psychological effects violates a number of human rights of women and girls

These make it an act of violence against women and girls. This is why many governments in Africa and elsewhere have taken steps to eliminate the practice of FGM in their countries to #endcuttinggirls

These steps include laws criminalizing FGM, education and outreach programs to  and the use of civil remedies and administrative regulations to prevent the practice of FGM just to name a few.

Eighteen African countries—Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Togo—have enacted laws criminalizing FGM to #endcuttinggirls

Nigeria Bill on  Violence Against Persons Prohibition was signed into Law on 28th May  2015. The legislation contains provisions banning various forms of gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation

The law criminalizes “harmful traditional practices,” a term defined broadly to include female genital mutilation.

This includes “all traditional behaviour, attitudes and/or practices, which negatively affect the fundamental rights of girls and women

Any person who performs FGM, engages, incites or abets another person to carry out FGM is on conviction, subject to a punishment of 4 years imprisonment or a fine of NGN200,000.

An attempt to commit any form of FGM on conviction be liable to a punishment of 2 years imprisonment or a fine NGN100,000

As advocates, we need to understand that law enforcement agencies alone cannot do the job of stamping this practice out. CSOs and advocates need to create and sustain effective reporting systems that help to provide information to the police and other enforcement institutions.

Often times, survivors, those at risk and witnesses cannot report to the police directly for fear of social backlash.  advocates should be available to provide the cloak of anonymity by receiving the information and sharing same with law enforcement.

For  advocates to be able to do this, we must be committed and trustworthy. We have to consistently be reliable on both ends. Law enforcement will take us serious if our information is reliable and devoid of malice. So we must ensure the credibility of the information received.

Also, the members of the community must trust us to keep their confidentiality, and trust that we will take prompt steps to  when aware of a threat.

It is important that CSOs collaborate with government agencies to provide refuge for girls and women that escape or resist being cut.

It will not be sufficient to just stop a cutting when scheduled. It is more important to ensure the cutting does not take place. Sometime, to do this, the women and girls will need to be taken away from the threatening environment until the air is clear.

Advocates can also provide such refuge, or help facilitate the person’s movement to such refuge. An incident that comes to mind to buttress this important point is that of the girl that ran away from home in Izzi Clan of Ebonyi State when she learnt she would be cut.

Enforcement of the law is another very important tool to ensure abandonment of the practice. Sometimes, it is necessary to wield the big stick for practitioners and their abettors to desist from the practice. Sometimes news of punishment creates great awareness, and inspires compliance.

We can also work with, demand and support the establishment of gender desk at every law enforcement station, be it the Police or Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

Establishment of gender desk alone will not be sufficient, we should also provide technical and training support to designated officers to build their capacity to enforce the law without compromising the safety of the informants, or undermining the cultural sensitivities of the people.

Advocates must also follow up on cases and reports that the law enforcement agencies are handling. We must appreciate the fact that the work of policing is an onerous one. The officers can get overwhelmed by a heavy workload. Following up constantly helps to ensure that  cases don’t fall through the cracks.

Law enforcement agencies must at all times know that there are advocates interested in their  work. This will keep them on their toes.

When a FGM case is taken to court, advocates need to be there too to provide both moral and technical support to the prosecutors and the survivors.

I must state at this point that enforcement alone is not going to  . we must employ other means such as is being promoted by the UNICEF/UNFPA Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM: Accelerating Change..

This include; sensitisation, consensus building, community dialogue, social media engagement, etc. For more info, visit www.endcuttinggirls.org and @endcuttinggirls on all social media platforms.

We are also on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. On all these platforms we share updates and information on FGM.

We also invite you to participate in our monthly Frown Challenge, every last Friday of the month. Together we will  in this generation.

With that we have come to the end of today’s tweet conference. We will take questions now.

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