TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Protecting Girls/Women from FGM during #COVID19 Lockdown: Role of EndFGM Community Volunteers (champions, etc) – 23.04.2020

by Twitter Team @endcuttinggirls

According to Word Heath Organization (@WHO), Coronavirus is an infectious disease caused by the COVID-19 virus. 

The virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. 

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Due to the  COVID-19 pandemic, the lives of children and families across the globe has been upended and the impacting efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) #endcuttinggirls #COVID19

This critical moment, the role of End FGM Community volunteers cannot be left out.

End FGM Community  volunteers are in the best place to build trust with communities and community leaders. Therefore, it is important to listen to people and respond to their questions, fears and misinformation with fact-checked information that is useful to them.

End FGM Community volunteers have an important role in providing timely and actionable health information, so people know how to protect themselves and stay healthy.

They can then feel they have the right skills to help reduce risks and prevent the spread of COVID-19

while reminding them about the dangers of FGM.

End FGM Community volunteers Conducts Interpersonal communication sessions with individuals, families while maintain physical distancing.

Additionally, End FGM Community volunteers Support girls/women and influential community members to speak out against FGM .

Where there are cases of FGM, the End FGM Community volunteers reports such cases to the appropriative Ministries, Departments or Agencies with the help of their community leaders.  

If there should be any form of complication as a result of FGM, the End FGM Community volunteers ensures that such issues are addressed by service providers (health facilities, etc.)

End FGM Community volunteers can work as volunteers for statutory bodies or agencies involved in the end FGM campaign (community, LGA, State) to deliver FGM-related services.

The End FGM Community volunteers has the full power of their traditional rulers to monitor delivery homes to ensure female children are not subjected to FGM during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wherever a female baby is delivered within the community, the End FGM Community volunteers will be available to educate the family members on the dangers of FGM and COVID-19 which is known as “household education sessions”

The End FGM Community volunteers also team up in their community to campaign against any health issue that may increase the practice of FGM in their Community especially COVID-19. 

During an epidemic, there are often confusion and rumors about the disease. People will get a lot of different information from media, friends, family, social media, organizations or other sources. Some of these sources may give conflicting information.

What happens when people have too much information about a problem that makes it difficult to identify a solution?

  • People might become fearful and mistrust health recommendations. They might resist and deny the situation.
  • This can lead to people not using medical help and ignore life-saving health advice or escape measures (i.e quarantine) put in place by authorities and health services to prevent spread of the disease.
  • Misunderstandings about the disease can lead people to refuse help from health workers. They may even make threats or use violence.
  • Fearful people might start mistreating people who have or seem to be sick. This can happen even when they are cured already due to a lack of knowledge about effectiveness of treatment.

Before we close, we would like to share a brief overview of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for the benefit of those joining our tweet conference for the first time.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) includes all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies FGM into four types, and all four types are all practiced in Nigeria.

Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision). Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora & labia majora. #endcuttinggirls #COVID19

Type III: 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 (infibulation). Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary. #endcuttinggirls #COVID19

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Nigeria, especially Imo State. #endcuttinggirls #COVID19

FGM has no known health benefit, and is harmful to girls and women. It involves altering, removing and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue.

It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM, and every year some 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to its potential negative health consequences (UNICEF 2016).

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2018) revealed that 20% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 25% (NDHS 2013). 

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.  

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