The panic in the small room was choking. The local “cutter” was frantic. Her assistant watched, too shocked for words as the cutter continuously tapped gently at first, then began to vigorously shake the near-lifeless baby who had been bleeding uncontrollably and was getting weaker.
Janet simply took a look at the face of the local cutter, and that was enough to reawaken her panic and fears. She sped past the stunned cutter, into the faded curtain covered room and there, her precious baby girl lay on the mat in a pool of her own blood- dead. She screamed!
How would she tell her husband? She had been against the idea, but mama in her usual domineering manner had insisted that her precious baby girl be circumcised. “Don’t you know that was how you were able to remain chaste till your marriage? Don’t panic, I’m taking her to a professional. She’ll be fine”. At the end, her illiterate farmer-husband had succumbed. Janet remembered other things as well, including the excruciating pains and near death experience while giving birth and she wished for the umpteenth time, that she hadn’t listened to mama.
Female Genital Mutilation, otherwise popularly called female circumcision involves partial or complete removal of healthy female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Currently, in Nigeria 20 million women and girls have undergone FGM (The Guardian, October 2016). It is assumed that communities and cultures that practice FGM do so for some reasons. In my community, girls are cut to provide some aesthetic appeal. Hence, however valid the reasons may be, we must understand that FGM violate women and girl’s reproductive health and rights. And failure to respect, protect and fulfill these rights is an injustice to humanity.
It is heart breaking that FGM is practiced in Nigeria in both rural and urban areas (MicS, 2011). These cut across cultural, ethnic and religious lines in Nigeria- NO WHERE TO RUN
Today we must become resolute to end female circumcision as I like to call it. We must join efforts with the international community for zero tolerance for the practice of FGM in Nigeria. We must demonstrate action to national and international frameworks to end FGM in our time and age, if we intend to make the world a better place for our children. The future is female; the future is me- and she must be saved.
Currently in Nigeria, a federal law exists that bans FGM though only judiciable in the Federal Capital Territory. This is an opportunity for states to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015 and set strict penalties for defaulters. This creepy monster must be stopped from causing more havoc in our society. #NigEndFGM
By Amadi Ogechi Vinaprisca
Student of Biochemistry, 200L
University of Port Harcourt.