TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Empowering Boys/Men To Address The Gender Issues Surrounding FGM – 27.12.2018

FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation and is defined as all practices that involve 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 types of FGM, as classified by World Health Organisation (WHO) and they are:

Type 1 (Clitoridectomy) involves the Partial or total removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy)  

Type 2 (Excision) Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labiamajora

Type 3 (Infibulation) Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with the creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioningthe labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris  

Type 4 (unclassified) refers to

All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, pulling, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization  

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women

FGM is deeply rooted in culture, has no health benefits, violates the human rights of women and girls

FGM is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of  girls and women

FGM practice violates women and girls’ rights to health, security and physical integrity

FGM practice violates women and girls’ rights to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

FGM practice violates women and girls’ rights to life (when the procedure results in death)

FGM Practice harms girls and women because it interferes with the natural functions of their bodies.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) over 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.

15 million girls are at risk of experiencing it by 2020 in high prevalence countries (UNICEF, 2016. Female genital mutilation: a global concern. 2016).  FGM has short terms and long term effects on the health and well-being of girls and women.

Short term effects of FGM include: severe pain, excessive bleeding, shock, genital tissue swelling, infections, etc

Long term effects of FGM cut across: chronic genital infections, urinary tract infections, painful urination, keloids, perinatal risks, etc

For more info on this and other FGM related issues, please visit www.endcuttinggirls.org

You can also like our Facebook page using the link www.facebook.com/endcuttinggirlsnigeria or visit our Youtube channel

Ways to empower boys/men to address the gender issues FGM are as follow

  • Creating campaigns specific towards enlightening Men/Boys about FGM  
  • All stakeholders at the community, national, regional and international level should initiate or continue action to incorporate men into the campaign to #endcuttinggirls

Medicalization of FGM (Performance of FGM by health care provider) is never acceptable because this violates medical ethics, since

  • FGM is a harmful practice
  • medicalization perpetuates FGM
  • the risk of the procedure outweigh any perceived benefit.  

FGM constitute a violation of women and girls’ human rights and are a form of discrimination based on sex, gender, age and other grounds.

FGM sustains gender norms and stereotypes that contravene human rights. A number of international human rights conventions explicitly and implicitly address states’ obligations to eliminate FGM.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women requires states to “take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women.”

FGM is a form of GBV, and more specifically, violence against women. Calls for new or strengthened legislation prohibiting violence against women and harmful traditional practices. Any health care professional who performs FGM is violating girls’ and women’s right to life, right to physical integrity, and right to health. They are also violating the fundamental ethical principle

Female Genital Mutilation has been addressed from different approaches overtime; health related, social norm and also from an individual mentality angle all to #endcuttinggirls

But another approach that is also very important we explore is the decision making processes and gender power dynamics surrounding the practice as this will better inform prevention and protection policies towards the struggle to

To understand this phenomenon, FGM needs to be understood as a social norm based on gender relations, in particular ‘silent power negotiations’ between the women and men in some affected communities.

When this reality is being digested, it gives way to a more holistic approach to  by making use of the activities and involvement of the men/boys in the process

Due to the current power dynamics, traditional leaders, male head of regions and institutions must be carried along for a proper standing to be effective so as to #endcuttinggirls

In leadership, men still hold most of the hottest government and leadership seats and as such have a bigger space to influence change and integrate new reforms in their respective communities.

And since the process of this doesn’t end with this generation or next, it must also involve the next generation of men; BOYS, as they will also be majorly involved in the decision making process of the continuum. Within the Nigeria context, men easily get ‘sanctioned’ when they deviate from upholding patriarchy and adhering to some ‘expected codes’ by fellow men, this is why a subtler means must be adopted to involve men is the process.

This process must stand to be of benefit or interest for the boys and men to really buy into the process as this will be to them like an incentive.

Therefore, the first major point of call for this model will be, using those that stand as role models to key into the general effort to

As this will pave way for younger men to be influenced by these front liners into keying into the effort as well.

 How then do we integrate and involve these men and the boys in the effort  to #endcuttinggirls ?

  • Develop and support adequately resourced research and analysis on FGM, including the collection of comparable statistical data across all affected regions.
  • Support interventions aimed at building bridges between the very many levels of the communities as this will make the effort to  a supporting one for them as well
  • Promote, design and implement projects and programmes that take into account the role of men and boys in contributing to the abandonment of FGM in the communities.
  • As FGM is a social norm, we must also take into consideration the social function it serves within the communities and the importance of alternatives to the social expectations, if needed.
  • Develop a policy framework on violence against women and girls which includes FGM and mainstream the issue in existing internal and external policies in the communities.
  • Explore the linkages between FGM and other forms of Gender Based Violence, including child marriage.

Various gender issues surround FGM as the practice is done for various reasons that are gender biased such as making sure the girl child is a virgin till marriage, ensuring her marriageability, ensuring she doesn’t cheat on her husband amongst others.   

As stated earlier  FGM is regarded as a form of gender based violence (GBV) and is also a violation of human rights

Even though the practice isn’t done on boys/men, they too are affected by proxy as they are either fathers, brothers or husbands of FGM survivors. Men are regarded as the decision makers  in most African/Nigerian homes, so enlightening them is enlightening the whole family. In some situations, it is the husband’s mother that insists that the girl child is cut, if the husband isn’t enlightened, he will most likely agree to the request of his mother even if his wife is against it. But if he is enlightened, he will most likely turn down the request.  

It is essential that enlightenment programs are specifically designed for boys/men and our SMA team has already started work on this as one of such trainings tagged “Men Engage Alliance” was recently held at  Ikere, Sapetu Ibariba Hall. And  we have also reached out to over 7000 secondary school students (both boys and girls) to enlighten them about FGM. We established anti-FGM clubs in all the schools visited and it is not surprising that in some schools, boys are the ones championing the campaign in their school.

Traditionally men are hardly involved in female genital mutilation, all the practical arrangements for the cutting are made by women and men know very little about at what age girls are cut, who performs the cutting, and what exactly is cut, etc. ( http://menspeakout.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/MSO-Study_Summary_web.pdf)  

However, it can be agreed that men have an important role to play because by not speaking out against it, men consent to having their daughters cut. ( http://menspeakout.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/MSO-Study_Summary_web.pdf)  

In the past campaigns to end FGM have been focused mainly on women so as to prevent the incidence of FGM. But in the future, we would highly recommend that boys and men be actively carried along in the campaign and their enlightenment should be made a priority just like the enlightenment of women is #endcuttinggirls.

And we that we have come to the end of today’s twitter conference, we hope you have gained knowledge from it, we would now be responding to any questions you might have

You can also watch videos on FGM on our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyB8f8IM3k2xTsKNfUZf9wg

And you can also join us for our weekly twitter conference with the  which is held by 5-7pmpm every Thursday on this platform.

With that we have come to the end of today’s tweet conference, Together we shall  in this generation.

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