A dark plague indeed! I decided to visit the ceremonial venue to see if I could make an intervention. I have been on a mission to Nigeria with the team from the Africa CDC and we have spent about a month trying to set up one of the CDC regional office in West Africa. Even though I had arrived Abuja as scheduled for my mission, my decision to travel down to the Southern part of Nigeria to visit the venue of this obscene practiced prompted from the headline I saw on one of the local newsprint.
I have heard severally sometimes back that Female Genital Mutilation was still practiced in some communities across West Africa even though the practice had been noted to be prevalent in about thirty (30) countries in Africa.
I was amazed that this barbaric act still rages on in the region. I have worked with severally international NGOs for eight years to educate and empower people across Africa to understand their basic rights and the need to stop FGM. I was travelling to Edo State in Nigeria to witness and advocate for the end to FGM. It was few days left to the end of my mission; I couldn’t go back to Addis Ababa without reaching out to these communities who had refused to end this evil practice. The poor rural girls who didn’t have any options and voice in community were the ones subjected to this inhumane treatment.
What really are the motivations for this ancient dark practice?
Having worked on projects to end FGM in the past, I have received several answers to this question. In some places, Female Genital Mutilation is basically a cultural practice which the society welcomes. FGM most often is associated with the passage of young girls into womanhood. Several ways of performing FGM exist but the more typical method of cutting is performed on the young girls. A more severe method called clipping are carried out on the older teenagers. In some other communities, FMG is a compulsory process underwent before marriage. In these communities, young women who have been cut gain higher status and are respected.
|At The Ceremony with Older Women.
My encounter in Edo state.
Prior to my engagement with the women and priestess who perform the rite, I met with the chief of the village and presented my proposals but it was rightly discarded. The women kicked against my intention to intervene. The young girls bleed profusely, a really horror sight to behold as the ceremony rolled on. I know a lot has been done to put to an end to Female Genital Mutilation but more still has to be done. Communities such as the one I visited needs to be educated on the need to live in accordance with the basic principle of fundamental human rights. More families, communities and villages still need to be specifically enlightened on the rights of girls and women. My experience in Edo state shows that people and communities across Africa still believes strongly in FGM.
What can be done to end Female Genital Mutilation?
Education and empowerment is key! I think the local people should be trained to organize sessions specifically on human right within their communities. The adverse effects of FGM should be highlighted in order to educate and correct their misconceptions. The young women should be strongly encouraged to speak out and take issues of FGM on board. Spreading the word is also important and communities should be also encouraged to spread the word and share knowledge with other communities.