FGM: Educate women using all medium possible

Photo Credits: Google

Photo Credits: Google

Female genital mutilation is one of the key issues that women especially in Africa are fighting ceaselessly to put end to. The practice is only there to inflict physical and mental pains and in some cases life long health complications that only the victims live to bear.

Raising awareness on issue such as this can not be left for government bodies alone. To achieve results, we need to involve and educate religious leaders and apply enough pressure on them until they comply especially those with “Mission House” attached to their church. Lots of churches in Nigeria, especially Pentecostal churches have clinics for both ante and post natal care. Locally, they are called Mission House. This is usually head by an older female church member sometimes pastor’s wife who has gone though informal training of midwifery.

Mission Mother does physical assessments on the expectant mothers, some of which are first time mothers and believed every words being told by the Mission Mother. A mother died in Ipaja area of Lagos a few hours ago after she has been retained at a church for a few days. Heavily pregnant and complained of dizziness. As a non medical professional, one could sense low iron here, the poor lady was retained and been prayed on until she was unconscious –  after which the Mission Mother decided to take her to the hospital, well in time to be pronounced dead.

Well, I digress a bit there, but you can see my point with Mission House and lack of accountability.

Couple of years ago, in my little town, a young first time mother had her baby daughter at a church Mission House, the delivery went well and the happy couple took their bundle of joy home. The Mission Mother  instructed the new mother to bring her daughter, let’s call her Tope back in two weeks for circumcision. In Nigeria, there is a fine line between culture and religion. Most people would believe whatever their religious leaders instructed them to do.  While at home, Esther tried to get her husband’s opinion on circumcision, the husband who was enlightened told Esther that they were not going to do circumcision as it is a very dangerous procedure with no health benefits at all to their little angel and they could loose her or inflict life long health complications on the baby if anything went wrong. Although the husband did his best to explain his stance, Esther went ahead anyway and met with the Mission Mother and did the circumcision on the arranged date. Unfortunately, the end result was a terrible news as Tope died due to the Mission Mother inability to control the excessive bleeding. The Mission Mother was arrested by the local police and jailed. Three weeks later, she was released, continued living her life as if nothing had gone wrong.

Maybe Mission Mother has performed hundreds of girls circumcision successfully but we need to stop the needless practice to keep children like Tope alive.

Educating women on issues that affect them can not be over emphasised. Most women over 20 years old born in the country had gone through this senseless procedures because our mothers just did what they were told, some of us were lucky to be alive, others have been scarred forever, while lots of women never made it beyond few hours after the operation.

In Nigeria today, most clinics and hospitals actively educate mothers on possible adverse effects of FGM, they encouraged women not to put their daughters through such ordeal. However, you will only get this message if you had your girls at a clinic.

We have large number of women who insist given birth at their church clinics for various reasons, we need to extend our focus into making sure these churches were informed and take responsibility for their actions.

Educating women through their churches, mosques and in market places will help to raise awareness of needless female genital mutilation.

See BBC recent statistics to see where Nigeria is on the practice of FGM in relation to the rest of African nations. According to the article 70% of FGM in Nigeria is performed by traditional practitioners, the category in which Mission Mothers fall under as they were neither trained doctors nor nurses.

 



Categories: Africa, Nigeria

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

15 replies

  1. How I wish half the women in Africa will rise up to this fight. ironically, even enlightened and educated fathers and mothers consent to this harmful practice against their girl-child

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  2. I learned about this practice when I studied in England and France where I met lots of African students. Some young women I knew had actually undergone FGM. I was horrified, since I’ve never heard of it in my native Caribbean. Culture is not sacrosanct, and there are some cultural practices that need to be challenged.

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    • You are right, Shery. This is especially sad because the practice was meant to prevent women from sleeping around, how delusional is that?.

      Thanks for the comment.

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      • I agree with both you and Shery.

        You need a multi-prongued attack

        1) Educate mothers to be, this ‘procedure is unnecessary and potentially lethal’.
        2) Enforce some standards regarding mid-wifery you can’t have people just walking in off the street declaring they are skilled medical practioners. They have to undergo some sort of training and be held accountable. The ‘Mission House’, who employs them or lets them practice must also be held liable. Licenses to practice must be monitored and regulated.
        3) The rights of the children should be pushed more strongly, children are not merely to exist to work, beg, get flogged, or mutilated – for economic or cultural reasons. They are human beings and their rights must be respected.
        4) You need proper police and courts (again).

        Even with all this in place in Britain, ‘ethnic mothers’ who are adamant are preserving this ‘practice’, are now taking kids to ‘the Third World’, where they can be mutilated and ‘no questions’ asked. Here is a recent story of a British-born Zimbabwean woman taking a child to Ghana to be ‘sliced’.
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-31171844

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  3. Hello Matt,

    Thank you for reading my blog and for your comments. Although there is a controversy around the exact origins as the practice can be traced to lots of places around the world. However, most agree that the FGM started in ancient Egypt as documented by historians.

    Yes, it is horrifying experience. While I was in high school a young girl around ten years old ran into my room to hide away from her parents as she was going to be circumcised that day alongside her two step sisters. Tanwa was an only child, seeing one of her sisters being cut filled her with horror, I was supposed to ‘safe’ her. Her mother who feared for her daughter’s life, Tanwa and I cried for a long time hoping Alhaji, the father would change his mind but I had to open my door when he threaten throw me out of his house and I was not any wiser at the time.

    Before this time, I thought FGM is only practiced on infants. Regardless, of the age of the victims, it is needless pains that no one should be put through. In my home town, the practice is performed during the first few months of life and done only once, more like an incision, a symbol so the victim could shed blood.

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  4. I took a history course in college called “Contemporary Africa.” The course touched on the issue of FGM, but upon learning about it some years ago, I don’t remember being as horrified then as I am now after reading your post. There are few words… I’m so distraught to think that young girls and their families go through this.

    Would you mind sharing a bit of background about the origins of this practice? I’ve always been curious, and you sound like you have a deeper knowledge of the issue than most.

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Trackbacks

  1. Girls circumcision in Nigeria – Who are the 10 – 25%? « Folakemi Odoaje
  2. FGM: Clay and herbs | Ori Yeye nii Mogun

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