Culture Aware: Ending Female Genital Mutilation

Hey People

How are we doing today? All good? Well fed? Feeling loved? If so, doxology! I play too much, I know. I know. Why so serious though? Live life a little, smile a lot and remember you are responsible for your own happiness.

A really wise person once said the “The world is changed one person at a time” and today I have become that one person and I really hope to convince you to join me in becoming that one person as we talk about very briefly, a topic which I believe ought to get more attention in our environment than it already does.

Remember in the previous post I talked about how I got a call from an old acquintance Mr ‘Sola Fagorusi inviting me to this round table workshop/training about how we can use social media much more effectively as an advocacy tool to End FGM/C in Nigeria. The next series of post will be dedicated to talking about this issue (more like problem)

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Sola Fagorusi taking a session concerning the prevalence of FGM/C

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION/CUTTING

I can see some people cringing already like “Why is Okizle talking about this here?” “This is supposed to be a travel and lifestyle blog?” “Okizle this is not why we are here”. All valid complaints by you people if I may say but remember one of the purpose of AjalaTalesBlog is to talk about culture and traditions and including what I would term as Harmful cultural practices within the context of this post. Let’s use our voice to raise advocacy for these issues you know.

So what is Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C)? This is the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for CULTURAL OR NON-THERAPEUTIC REASONS. The last part is in block letters because sometimes in the hospital, deliberate cuts are made on the vagina wall, especially during child birth and that isn’t FGM/C because the reason is a therapeutic one.

The term was first used by feminists, women’s health advocates and Human Rights activists and was subsequently adopted by the Inter African committee at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (1990). Prior to its adoption the term was “Female Circumcision” which is actually a gross misnomer of the practice because of the tendency to equate it to male circumcision. This isn’t the case.

fgm-WellspringCentre
Image showing the various parts of the vagina cut off as a result of FGM/C. In Type 3b, the Vagina is sewn close leaving a tiny space for menstruation. Image copyright of http://www.wellspringcentre.wordpress.com

We can all agree that Male Circumcision is for a therapeutic reason yes? Okay if you didn’t know let me inform you why Male Circumcision is therapeutic. During Male circumcision the foreskin overlying the frenulum of the penis is cut off. This is done to prevent the collection of dirt and germ and ultimately self infection or cross infection (Genital Tract Infection).

With that knowledge in hand and understanding the anatomy of the female genital tract we can see that the female external genitalia serves to protect the vagina opening (where the baby comes out from) and the urethral opening (where urine comes out)  from external influences i.e Dirt, germs etc. However these parts are the major targets during the so-called Female Circumcision leaving a girl child (in some cases, youths and young adults) powerless and defenseless an in severe, incomparable pain.

WHY ARE WE CONCERNED ABOUT FGM/C?

I am a Nigerian so I would talk more about the facts that obtain in my country than other countries. It has been said that about 200 million women worldwide have been mutilated and of these figure, 20million of those come from my darling country, Nigeria, making up about 10% of the prevalence in total population affected. Within Nigeria, the prevalence is highest in the State of Osun (77%), Ebonyi (74%) Ekiti (72%), Imo(68%), Oyo(60%).(Stats according to UNFPA survey, 2015)

fgm-map Unicef
Map of Africa showing the prevalence of FGM/C by countries. This doesnt reflect the world wide prevalence or the prevalence.  Image courtesy of UNICEF (Five things you should know about FGM)

 

All these are just figures though not the reality and that’s why it isn’t being talked about as much as it should be to a lay man, numbers make no sense and you need to show him the true picture of what you are trying to discuss with him. (Not that my darling readers are dumb, you people are extremely smart and fun and loving *insert love struck emoticon*) Let us picture this, when you were in primary school and you had a blunt pencil, many of us used blades to sharpen our pencil (I mean, the so-called sharpeners where just useless really). In the course of using these blades, you cut your finger. Can you take a moment to remember your immediate reaction to that episode? How old were you? 5? Maybe 6 years old? Brilliant! Now take a moment to imagine the same blade (sometimes crude knives) being used to cut a girl child’s vagina for about 20-30 minutes. Does it even make sense? In some climes, they wait till you are about 18 years old and then have like 5 hefty men hold you down while they perform these BABARIC CUTS on you. They call it a rite of passage to womanhood.

Illegal Female Genital Mutilation Cutters Show Off Their Tools
Image copyright of Time.com

First of all let’s ask ourselves when did the right of a female to be called a woman lie within her vagina? Who put it there? Why then do we decide that before we can call such female, a woman, then we need to physically assault her? It makes no sense. I think it also stems from the misnomer accrued to the male phallus, calling it a Manhood. In my own opinion, it is a misnomer because the phallus is what make you classified as a male (of which that’s even changing nowadays but let’s leave that for now) however your manhood lies in your value systems and believes and socio-cultural ideologies. So, Manhood =/= Penis and ergo, Womanhood =/= Vagina.

Wow! I am hitting about 1000words on this post and I still have a whole lot to say but I need to run now so that I won’t bore you with my rant. In the next post, I will be talking about the classification of FGM/C and the myths surrounding the practice. I want to dispel these myths and with a hope to End FGM in Nigeria. It’s a long journey but like I said, the world is changed one person at a time.

If you have questions or need clarifications or you just feel a need to share with us,

Email: AjalaTales1@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter: @Okizle and join the convo #EndFGMng

Peace. Love. And Chicken Grease.

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