A non-governmental organisation, the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE), has sensitized community leaders, women and activists against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The sensitization was done during a one-day seminar to commemorate this year’s Zero Tolerance for FGM which was attended by school pupils, survivors, community leaders, concerned women, men, journalists and activists.
In her address, Betty Abah, the Executive Director of CEE-HOPE Nigeria lamented that despite the awareness and campaign against female genital mutilation, the practice is still widespread, even in Lagos.
Abah recalled how a Chief in Agbowa, a suburb in Lagos had to flee with his daughter from his palace when elders of the community came calling to have her go through the dangerous practice.
She urged the participants at the event to rise up like Mary Slessor, the Presbyterian Scottish missionary who fought against the killing of twins in Calabar. She said with collective effort, it is possible to achieve zero female genital mutilation.
The keynote speaker at the event and Executive Director of Women’s Rights and Health Project, Bose Ironsi, said, unlike male circumcision which has medical and social benefits for boys, the opposite is the case for women.
She said circumcision for women is described as female genital mutilation because it has been proven to cause harm and no good. She said it can lead to prolonged labour for women, diseases, infection, and deprives women of enjoying sexual pleasure.
A survivor, Comfort Udeme, recalled how as a 12-year-old girl, she travelled from Lagos to Akwa Ibom for a holiday when some hefty women, lured her to the back of her family’s house, pinned her down and had her cut with a razor. She said her father at the time celebrated the event by slaughtering a chicken
She concurred with Ironsi that the practice causes prolonged labour among other medical and social harm. She cites how her first child was delivered through cesarean section, and the second, with a lot more pain.
A mother of three, Bridget Simon, also recalled how at age 12, she was circumcised in her native community in Ebonyi. When it was their turn to carry out the same practice on her younger sister, she bled to death. She thanked CEE-HOPE for speaking against the horrible practice.