TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: The extended Family as the safety net for protecting Girls and Women from FGM – 19.07.2018

From Nigeria, we welcome you all to today’s Twitter Conference of the UNICEF-UNFPA Joint Programme on FGM Elimination Campaign: Accelerating Change #endcuttinggirls

Today, I and my colleague @ThevisionBuilder and @robinson4eva will be taking you through the topic  – “extended family as the safety net for protecting girls and women from FGM”

We will tweet on the topic for 90 minutes while we will take questions and comments for the rest 30 minutes.

Join us as we share this exciting and expository time on #endcuttinggirls

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a collective term for procedures which include the removal of part or all of the external female genitalia for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons.

FGM is medically unnecessary, extremely painful and has serious health consequences, both at the time when the mutilation is carried out and in later life.

FGM is typically performed on girls aged between 4 and 15, but in some cases it is performed on new-born infants or on young women before marriage or pregnancy..

WHO classified FGM into four 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 of & vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning of labia minora and/or & labia majora, with or without excision of & clitoris (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 & human rights of girls/women, and has immediate and long-term negative effects on their health & general wellbeing.

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

For more information concerning FGM, kindly visit our website or YouTube Channel ( http:// www.endcuttinggirls or https://www.youtube.com/endcuttinggirlsNigeria )

At this point, I will give room for my Co-anchor @Robionson4eva to take the second part of the presentation. .

An extended family is a family which extends beyond the nuclear family to include grandparents and other relatives…In some circumstances, the extended family comes to live either with or in place of a member of the immediate family.

Sometimes children are made to visit their grandparents and spend some time with them if they are alive.

These families include, in one household, near relatives in addition to an immediate family. An example would be an elderly parent who moves in with his or her children due to old age.

In modern Western cultures dominated by immediate family constructs, the term has come to be used generically to refer to grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, whether they live together within the same household or not.

Depending on the size of the family and the roles each member plays, that leader may be the oldest, most senior family member, or the most prominent breadwinner who contributes a significant portion of the family’s finances.

Today we are going to look at how the Extended family serves as a safety net in protecting girls from FGM

In an extended family, grandparents and other family members such as aunts and uncles play a significant role in both its economic and social function.

In most cases, grandparents especially grandmothers are the ones that always pressurize children to bring their granddaughters for genital cutting known as female genital mutilation.

In African society and even on religious grounds, children find it very difficult to disobey their parents. They see as a sin to disobey their parents.

But this changes as they grow and become more knowledgeable about things, sometimes they can disagree when they don’t believe or have superior knowledge about issue.

Grand mothers are known to be ‘stubborn’ and radical in enforcing things they believe in to their children. Once they believe in a course, they will pressurize their children to do that which they believe is right.

Some of the things they believe are passed to them by their own parents and sometimes at several sociocultural and religious groups.

I will now hand over to my colleague @ThevisionVuilder to complete the rest of the tweet.

Often times, children born in the cities are happy when they are told that they will be spending their holidays at grandmas home in the village.

These innocent girls don’t even know that there are others side of spending holidays with grandmothers.

Villages that perform FGM at teenage sees those holiday periods as opportunity to have them cut.

Let’s look at the story of Zainab who was infibulated at age 8 shared this; “My two sisters, myself and our mother went to visit our family back home. I assumed we were going for a holiday. A bit later they told us that we were going to be infibulated (who).

The day before our operation was due to take place, another girl was infibulated and she died because of the operation. We were so scared and didn’t want to suffer the same fate.

But our parents told us it was an obligation, so we went. We fought back; we really thought we were going to die because of the pain.

If Zainab’s parents knew that FGM can put girls in danger, they wouldn’t have subjected them to that harmful practice.

There’s a case reported in the south-western Nigeria, were a woman took her kids down to the village to perform FGM ritual on them.

The girls were made to stay at their grandmother’s home for the purpose of cutting and healing before taking them back under the guise of spending their holiday with their grandmothers.

In this case, if the grandmother is aware that FGM is harmful, she will prevent the children from being cut because no grandmother likes to see their children suffer not to talk of granddaughters that they cherish.

Most times the grandfathers are not even aware of the plan to cut the girls or even aware of FGM. This is a more reason to engage the fathers and grandfathers in this discussion and sensitization because they are the heads of an extended family.

In the extended family, if one member of the family stands up to campaign against the practice of FGM, this diffuses to other members of the family and even outside the family.

Family meetings are held occasionally to discuss family interest and once the issue of FGM is raised as a trait in the family, the family looks for ways of preventing it. If the grandfather who happens to be the head is educated on the dangers of FGM, he can easily sensitize others

Other families will refer to that family that didn’t cut their girl-children when they want to talk about FGM in their own family.

They will say ‘that Okoye family, their girls were not cut and they are not promiscuous and are living happily with their families’

According to Demba Diawara, Senegalese village chief and imam, “A person’s family is not their village. The family includes one’s entire social network: their relatives in many surrounding villages, in all of the places they marry, even in far off countries like France and the United States … If you truly want to bring about widespread change … they must all be involved,”

Demba developed a strategy that worked for them in Senegal in abandonment FGM by 13 villages via a public declaration. The Strategy is simply put “To change his community, he must change his entire extended family network”

This means that to effect a social change like FGM in a community, you will have to start with their families and extended families. Because the families and its extended arms make up communities.

We now understand that educating key members of the extended families can’t be overemphasized. They should be trained and informed about the dangers which FGM.

In the south-Eastern part of Nigeria, most kindred if not political wards are formed from by an extended family #endcuttingirls

When the grandparents are trained and empowered to train others, they can join and start the campaign to #endfgm from their families

When a grandparent is trained, it’s like training an entire kindred like that it spreads to the whole community like a religious campaign.

In Nigeria, these extended families can easily be found in religious groups and other community groups like age-grades and peer clubs/meeting/forums

Major stake-holders in this campaign are implored to partner with some of these groups or reach out to them for the purpose of educating these grandparents.

When an extended family decides to abandon FGM, this will also be passed on to other generations of the family.

Parents should also know that it’s a crime to allow or not to protect a girl-child from being cut. In 2014,  David Cameron, former British Prime Minister said “Parents will be prosecuted if they fail to prevent their daughter being cut”

In Nigeria, Mrs. Aderonke Ige, says Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), is a family crime and in most cases of FGM, one parent usually connives with other members of the family to carry out this dastardly act on the girl-child or the teenage girl.

“Our tradition makes it impossible for the practice to be sanctioned or corrected because it would be very difficult to sue or charge one’s family member to court when this act is carried out on the girl or woman,” she further stated.

Education has power, when people are properly educated about things like FGM, they will be able to defend their girls from cutting like these women from across Africa…

Kadiga from Ethiopia said, “I will never subject my child to FGM/C if she happens to be a girl, and I will teach her the consequences of the practice earlier on.”

In conclusion, the extended family instead of promoting FGM, will become advocates to campaign against the practice.

I’ll like to stop here to give room for questions, comments and feedbacks. Thank you for the time! Join us every Thursday same time to #ENDCUTTINGGIRLS

You can access the transcript of this conference and for previous weeks on www.endcuttinggirls.org. Other exciting materials are there for your use. Join us on Facebook, twitter and Instagram for our other social media activities using @endcuttinggirls.

@The EndCuttingGirls Campaign has produced20 videos that are uploaded on our YouTube Channel ( www.youTube.com/endcuttinggirlsNigeria )which can be used as educational materials during community discussions.

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