FGM: Clay and herbs

“Clay and herbs shoved inside before being sewn up?” Confused, so I asked, “What’s the purpose of that?”

“To help with healing process.” Lizzy replied.

The use of clay for medicinal purposes is well documented but if one has to live with clay ‘up there’ for years – unbelievable.

A few years ago a friend came to Lizzy to ask for professional advice as she was getting ready to marry. Lizzy was amazed to learn her friend was mutilated years ago and also that she has a clay to be removed before her big day. Traditionally in Lizzy’s friend part of Senegal, herbs and clay were inserted after mutilation to help with healing process, then the area sewn back leaving enough room for urine and period.

Like Senegal, Nigeria is very diverse, lots of traditions are only known within the tribe folks.

Up until I was 18 years old, I only knew of Type I form of circumcision, I had assumed, this was the only type across the country, usually performed when the girl is days old so no real memory of the event. This was until I witnessed Tanwa being mutilated at 10, later learned that was the custom for her part of Yorubaland and it’s done just before puberty. Tanwa’s  story here

Incredible seeing many women who have been through the worse form of FGM coming out to share their stories in order to raise awareness especially those women who had to be reopen for marriage and for child births.

2:30 of the above UN video sums religious influence across Africa today. While FGM has been illegal since 2009 in Senegal, local people listen to their Imam who by the way has all his body parts intact using Islam as an excuse for FGM.

It didn’t take too long to convince a grandma of the harmful practice that is FGM – she has seen it all and perhaps just happy that the truth is now in the open in 3:5.

Given the diverse ethnic group in Nigeria, it was not too surprising that infibulation is practiced in the north especially among the Fulani and again using the same religious excuse.

Here I come again with Nigeria church with Mission House attached, the need to be involved in raising awareness on this important cause is high given many people seek approval from their religious leaders on issues. A child died in my town a few years ago at the church during circumcision performed by the Mission Mother against the father’s wish. 

Dr Momoh’s speech at FGM event was inspiring but I was left with another puzzling question regarding the list of other forms of child abuse facing girls in Africa which were primarily driven by ignorance.

So I turned to sideways to Lizzy, “Breast ironing?”  In Cameroon – this is done by mothers as a way to delay puberty so their girls don’t sleep around? 

So help me God.



Categories: Africa, Education, Family, Health, Nigeria, Religion

Tags: , , ,

9 replies

  1. CLAY & HERB, BREAST IRONING Hmmm! Who does these? What of sort of belief or tradition allows, maybe I wouldn’t have believe this if I had read it somewhere else. I believe we really need to study cultural beliefs of Africans more often so that we can get enlightened, check the ones that need reforms, it’s high time we started reviewing our culture, correct those that we need to, to suit present lifestyle so as not to keep harming ourselves, heralding occurrence of diseases that are not known to world, making ourselves guinea pigs in the Western labs.

    In fact I really don’t know what to say to this revelation.

    May God save us from us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeye, that is the prayer – for God to save us from ourselves!

      The breast ironing one has not been recorded in Nigeria (not that I know of) but in neighbouring countries like Chad, Ivory Coast – so bit a concerning. Please see here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_ironing

      Now, from research Fulani in our case practice infibulation which is the extreme form of FGM – just as we carry our traditions in our journeys, Fula in Senegal are the ones practicing the extreme form of FGM as well using clay and herbs as healing properties I would not rule it out that the ones up north are not doing the same given what we have all seen re Sharia law.

      See, most of this traditions were borne out of not knowing any better – the story of a husband who because he travels a lot subjected his 3 wives to infibulation as a way to prevent them from cheating while he’s away with no thoughts to physical and psychological harm he is causing his wives.

      Now we know that FGM does greater harm than infidelity…
      Raising awareness will help us.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gross stuff….. It is just incredibly stupid for people to choose ignorance

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Lord! Breast ironing, seriously?’ I thought I’ve heard it all, apparently not. Oh my, this is just so sad. We had a presentation a few weeks ago in school, where some girls talked about FGM and it’s awareness. It was truly informative and an eye opener. There was no mention of “shoving of clay” though in the talk. I guess, they like me also, didn’t know such an act was practiced. Thank you so much for spreading this awareness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just learnt of clay bit last weekend too, given practices varies depending on tribes, let’s hope that’s all. I was as surprised as you so when the presenter mentioned breast ironing, all I could say to my friend was ‘are we nuts?’ And a few click online confirms all… Very sad.

      But then I ask, whose job is it to educate and to enlighten? Most of these are only in the open because victims were in the west as for the extreme fgm, victims present a whole new challenge to their adopted countries… Our job I think – us who knew better.

      Thanks for the read

      Liked by 1 person

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