Despite global outcry and laws put in place to safeguard the rights of teenage girls in Nigeria, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still being practiced in about five states of the federation, LEADERSHIP Weekend has gathered.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an awkward cultural practice by some African tribes performed on women with hope to curtail their high sexual urge or to fulfill one traditional rite or the other, whichever way usually have disastrous outcomes due to its crude, unhealthy and cruel practice.
The outcome of the findings, acknowledged by both a local and an international body, was made available to LEADERSHIP Weekend by the executive director, Safe the Girls Campaign (SGC), Ruth Ekong- Ndubisi.
In Oyo State for instance, the report showed the prevalence of FGM in Ibadan North-east, Ibadan North, and Afijio local government areas of the state.
A victim, Paulina Abosede Oyedele who described the practice as barbaric, inhuman and an act of wickedness, said, “For some women in Africa, it turns out a helpless situation especially when families decide the fate of their grandchildren.”
She said, “I discovered that my parents gave in to this dastard as because, those who hide their children or even run away with them so as not to undergo this barbaric act are compelled to bring the children back home to carry out rites or risk being excommunicated and ostracised or even called bastards.’’
A community leader, Lateef Abiola, also disclosed with confidence that even some victims who initially escape are brought back diabolically, just to carry out genital mutilation on them as that is the custom.’’
He said, “Sadly, most of them are ignorant of the fact that some children get infected due to the usage of one blade for all the children which can eventually lead to their death’’.
“Though I was also told that some community leaders in Oyo West, Orelope and Kajola LGA’s of Oyo State due to the prevalent rate of FGM separately and independently made a public declaration against FGM in December 2018, this evil act has not subsided in the area as they still do it secretly,” he added.
Another victim, an indigene of Aroro village, Idi Obi, Mrs Adetutu Bukola, said she was tricked into coming home from the northern part of the country to see her ailing mother with her two daughters. And the girls were forcefully mutilated without her knowledge and consent.
Recall that Osun State on April 12, 2005 assented to the Female Circumcision and Genital Mutilation prohibition law. The law criminalised all forms of violence against women regardless of consent by the woman. The state government did not stop at criminalising the act, but went ahead to collaborate with local communities, traditional institutions, NGO’s, orthodox and medical circumcision practitioners, international organisations among others to put a stop to the practice
This is why communities such as Eko-Ende, Eko-Ajala, Iba, Ara, Apata, Ajagunlase, Owode, Araromi, Iwo-Oke, Owode-Orolu, Idiroko, Iyanfoworogi, Abaja-Egba, Wanikin, Ejigbo, Ede, among others, across the state gave a nod to the ban.
The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund, Good Parental Care SoLife, Stop Cut Initiative among others joined hands to wage war against the evil practice in Osun.
Imo State is currently rated number one in the practice of pressing of the clitoris. However, to fight the trend, Dr (Mrs) Nkechi Rochas Okorocha, wife of former governor Rochas Okorocha in 2016, became instrumental to the signing of the law that criminalised the act; “ Imo State Female Genital Mutilation (Prohibition) Law No.6 of 2017 signed on March 30, 2017’’.
An official of the State Ministry of Health who pleaded anonymity confirmed to LEADERSHIP Weekend that the state is presently battling with the act of massaging the clitoris as against the cutting which was prevalent.
She disclosed that some women use hot palm kernel or hot water to press the clitoris, a practice which afterwards results in numbness, infection, and outright sores.
The pressing is considered type 4 which she claimed nurses in local clinics encourage because it makes the female genital look nice.
Imo State director of the NOA, Vitus Ekeocha, said the Joint Programme has partnered with the government and other stakeholders to implement the programme in 10 LGAs, namely, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema, Ikeduru, Ngor Okpala, Ehime Mbano, Orlu, Ihitte Uboma, Ideato North, Owerri West and Owerri Municipal.
The Joint Programme worked with the State Technical Committee on FGM to coordinate the efforts to end FGM in Imo State, and are running a campaign called (O di nma nwanyi bu ka chi siri kee ya, the beauty of a female is how God created her).
LEADERSHIP Weekend further gathered that due to support of the UNICEF, 133 communities in five LGAs (Ngor-Okpala (28 communities), Ikeduru(29 communities), Oguta(24 communities), Owerri West(21 communities) and Ehime Mbano (31 communities)) have abandoned FGM while additional 54 communities(Ideato North- 31 communities and Ihitte-Uboma- 23 communities) is expected to publicly declare abandonment of FGM this year.
UNICEF Consultant to Imo on FGM, Ben Mbakwem, said the public declaration helps to inform everyone from the area that the practice is no longer safe and that people should stop doing it.
The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 (the VAPP Act) 2 , which came into force on May 25, 2015, is the first federal law attempting to prohibit FGM across the whole country. The VAPP Act aims to eliminate gender-based violence in private and public life by criminalising IT
However, while setting out the punishment for acts including rape (but not spousal rape), incest, domestic violence, stalking, harmful traditional practices and FGM. The VAPP Act, as a federal law, is only effective in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, and, as such, the remaining states must pass mirroring legislation to prohibit FGM across the country.
Prior to the VAPP Act, several states had already enacted state laws dealing with child abuse, child protection issues, violence against women and girls and criminalising the practice of FGM.
In some northern areas of the country, the Sharia Penal Codes of states including Zamfara, Kano Kebbi, Kaduna and Sokoto are in place to protect children against various forms of physical and psychological violence.