TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Supporting Parents (Mothers& Fathers) To Protect Their Daughters From FGM – 09.01.2020

BY OLUFALADE ADESEMOLA @CAPRI_TOLU

It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated. There is an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.

FGM impacts on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls and on the enjoyment of their human rights.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined as “all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

In other words, it is any procedure that causes injury to the female genitals without medical indication.

The World Health Organization (@WHO), classifies FGM into four broad types, based on the anatomical extent of the procedure: …

Type I (Clitoridectomy): This refers to the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (the fold of skin covering the clitoris). This is also referred to as ‘Sunna’.

Type II (Excision): Removal (in part or whole) of the clitoris and labia minora. The labia majora may or may not be removed. 

Type III (Infibulation): Here, the vaginal orifice is narrowed, and a covering seal created by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora. The clitoris may also be removed. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Pharaonic’.

Type IV (Unclassified): Any other harmful procedure performed on the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing and incision of the clitoris and/or labia, stretching and/or cutting of the vagina (‘gishiri’), scraping of tissue surrounding the vaginal opening (‘angurya’) and cauterization.

It also includes the introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to cause bleeding or to tighten or narrow the vagina, as well as massaging the clitoris with hot water or petroleum jelly to de-sensitize the clitoris (common in Imo State). 

FGM functions as a self-enforcing social convention or social norm. In societies where it is practiced, it is a socially upheld behavioural rule. Families and individuals continue to perform FGM because they believe that their community expects them to do so.

Families further expect that if they do not respect the social rule, they will suffer social consequences such as derision, marginalization and loss of status. 

While FGM is de facto violent, it is not intended as an act of violence. It is considered to be a necessary step to enable girls to become women and to be accepted, together with the rest of the family, by the social group of which they are part.

Moreover, the removal of or damage to healthy genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and may cause severe immediate and long-term negative health consequences.

For additional reading on FGM you can visit http://www.who.int and www.endcuttinggirls.org or watch

One of the reasons why the practice of FGM has persisted in some communities is because it is a social-taboo and influenced by cultural, tradition and religion.

These influences include social pressure to conform to peers, perception of FGM as necessary to raise a girl properly and prepare her for adulthood and marriage e.t.c.

In most FGM practicing communities, the issue of FGM is not an open discussed and this has made most people unaware of the negative consequences of the practice on the health and wellbeing of their girls and women.

We are aware of the fact that protecting the child from gender based violence is a responsibility of everyone, we can’t also deny the fact that we must support the parents who are the closest and immediate contact to the child

It means that the parent is the most important part of the child life and support should be given to them and they should be exposed to the dangers of FGM

Parenting support is primarily focused on imparting information, education and skills health related interventions about FGM

Parenting support includes informing and educating parents and this is delivered through home visits, creating educational programme in the community, one on one counselling or peer mentoring

Peer mentoring for parents should be around parent relevant information about FGM, educations and skills.

Supporting parents might also come in the form early childhood education, school-parent liaison, family meditation, child protection and family welfare services.

Parents in the religious environments could be targeted and advocates should extend the information and educate them on dangers of FGM.

Health checks on the mother and babies should be considered by community champions so as to get adequate information from CBC about FGM and also frequent checks should be made to the parents of the newly born girl child

In a less intensive form, supporting parents can come in form of making information available on websites, booklets, television and radio campaigns and telephone help lines.

Parents educational programmes should be one of the most important forms of parenting support which can be delivered through different platforms and can cut across all parents irrespective of backgrounds

Government, NGOS and various organizations who are dedicated to eliminating FGM should reach out through home visits to parents of newly born girl child and provide the information and support needed to protect the girl child

Befriending and mobilizing community support can also be adopted by community champions/ advocates in a particular geographic location and community.

Enabling networks and networking by generating social support amongst parents of girl child could also be adopted as support for parents in protecting their child against FGM.

Some regions take the communal approach to child rearing, educating and informing people in that region could also serve as a support system to parents.

In conclusion supporting the parents (mothers& fathers) would go a long way to protect the girl child from FGM because they are the immediate contact to the child and they are responsible for the child upbringing.

At this point, there would be room for questions and suggestions relating to FGM and the topic discussed

Together We Will End Female Genital Mutilation In This Generation

Thank You

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