Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a form of violence against women and girls that has affected them in parts of the African continent for years. Female genital mutilation includes all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other damage to the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
It is often led into the mistaken belief that it will ensure that the girl does not become promiscuous when she becomes a woman. The origin has been attributed to ancient customs, beliefs and traditions. The United Nations (UN), along with many concerned Africans and Nigerians, have continued to make concerted efforts to eradicate the practice.
In fact, according to the UN, one of its global goals is to ensure the eradication of FGM by 2030. FGM is seen as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and seen as a strong sign. of inequality.
It is also generally qualified as a violation against children because it is often perpetrated on minors. The socio-cultural beliefs inherent in Nigeria’s communities supported by gender equality and patriarchy have put an estimated 10 million girls at risk of FGM in Nigeria.
According to reports, Ekiti State is one of the states where FGM is prevalent. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that Ekiti was ahead of other southwestern states in prevalence of FGM, while Imo state led the way. nationwide. In an effort to reduce this, the Ekiti State government recently imposed a one-year prison term on female FGM practitioners.
Media for Human Development Foundation (MAI Initiative) founder Ayotomiwa Ayodele, who is a broadcaster, said the negative impacts of FGM on girl children raise serious concerns and require solutions. Ayotomiwa explained that her organization works on advocacy for gender, youth participation in leadership policies, reproductive and menstrual health, advocacy for policy development and good governance.
Ayotomiwa, lamenting the prevalence of FGM, added that his organization has embarked on several projects and activities inside and outside Ekiti State to advocate for the eradication of FGM.
Ayotomiwa said, “The organization has trained and sensitized over 8,000 young adults on the harmful effects of FGM. I participated in the UNICEF scriptwriting workshop in 2016 and 2017 which led to the presentation and production of the UNICEF radio drama series, “Pim Pim Pim”, which aims to enlighten the population on the negative effects of FGM. The series was broadcast on radio stations in southwestern Nigeria.
“I produced and facilitated the 2017 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 13-week Participatory Radio and Television Outreach Program on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), ‘When young people speak ”, which was broadcast on NTA Ado- Ekiti and Voice 89.9 FM in collaboration with New Generation Girls and Women Development.
That same year, I led the team of defenders in some communities in Ekiti State to sensitize traditional leaders to the effects of FGM. I have worked alongside my team to plan, organize and execute outreach programs for groups of men, high school students, teachers, nurses and pregnant women in eight local government areas of the state. of Ekiti.
She further recalled that in 2021, she led a team of staff and volunteers on outreach programs in high schools, nurses and pregnant women in Ekiti State, putting the focus on the communities of Irepodun, Ifelodun, Ekiti West, Ikere and Ado.
“The sessions focused on eradicating sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), abandoning grassroots FGM, discussions on menstrual and reproductive health, as well as teaching girls how to make reusable sanitary napkins, considering the current prohibitive cost. of sanitary napkins, ”Ayotomiwa said.
Ayotomiwa applauded the wife of the Governor of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, for her constant activities aimed at eradicating sexual and gender-based violence. She added that the knowledge she acquired in 2015 during the training on the negative effects of FGM on the girl child strengthened her determination to do everything possible to see to the eradication of the threat. She said that in Ekiti State, through the Office of the First Lady and the State Ministry of Justice, her organization had been able to advocate for the enactment of various laws relating to SGBV and FGM in the past two years.
This enactment includes the Ekiti SGBV law, which was enacted in 2019. Ayotomiwa believed that these laws send strong signals to violators. At a recent stakeholder meeting on FGM organized by UNICEF and Ado-Ekiti, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Ms Phydelia Abbas, senior associate of the program coordinating FGM at the UNICEF, urged state stakeholders to make efforts to end FGM, which it described as “harmful” and has no medical benefit.
She said that in the southwest, Ekiti State had overtaken Osun State, which led in 2013. Advising on how to eradicate the threat, Abbas said: “No force cannot come from Abuja to stop FGM in Ekiti State, except for locals. themselves led by our traditional rulers, religious leaders, market groups of men and women and students, come together to end this harmful practice. In 2023, Ekiti had a prevalence rate of 72%, but in 2019 it fell to 57.9%, which is not enough.
We still need to work more, because it is a manifestation of gender inequality. FGM is an extreme form of violence against our women and girls.
Ekiti State Chiefdom Affairs Office Executive Secretary Adegboyega Morakinyo said the anti-FGM law has been enacted in the state since 2011 and amended in 2019. He explained that a A fine of 200,000 naira and one year’s imprisonment has been recommended by law for perpetrators of FGM.
He also said: “We have published it in the Official Journal and will make it available to all organizations. It prohibits both parents and exterminators from engaging in the act and whoever flouts it will pay!
The chairman of the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers and Isan Ekiti Onisan Oba Gabriel Adejuwon said there was no scientific evidence in ancient beliefs that any girl who does not would not have undergone FGM would be promiscuity. The monarch, who said FGM is aimed at creating fear in the minds of people, highlighted the harmful effects of the practice.
Adejuwon said, “FGM is a very deadly and harmful practice. Some of the materials used for cutting by these practitioners are locally made and unsterilized. Some of the girls who undergo FGM are often infected with diseases.
Others bleed to death and can become sterile. It is harmful and we must stop it! As part of its efforts to rid the state of this harmful practice, the state government said it recently spent N42,500,000 as a grant, and handed it over to female FGM practitioners who had. abandoned the practice. No less than 180 former practitioners have benefited from the scholarship.
They publicly handed over their circumcision tools to Erelu Bisi Fayemi during the “Drop the Blade Initiative” in Ado-Ekiti. Erelu Fayemi said the grant was provided to encourage practitioners to give up FGM and engage in meaningful endeavors.
Fayemi, however, warned that anyone caught up in the trade will face the wrath of the law.
Erelu Fayemi revealed that each grant recipient received 250,000 naira, which she said would serve as start-up capital for them to engage in productive tasks in their various fields.
The governor’s wife also said, “This will be the second time the government has allowed former female circumcision practitioners in the state as part of its efforts to deter this despicable act.
We empower these practitioners today to keep them away from the illegal trade. If what they gained from FGC was the reason why they could not give up their job, we are ready to empower them.