World Health Organization (WHO) clearly states that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has no health benefit. However, over 3 million girls in Africa are still subjected to this harmful practice yearly and over 130 million girls and women that have undergone mutilation in the world. In Nigeria alone, over 20 million girls have been subjected to FGM. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), FGM entails ". . . all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. In Nigeria especially, over 90% of the victims are cut before the age of 5; and the practice is founded in traditional beliefs and societal pressure to conform.
Harmful effects of FGM include:
- Abscess formation
- Urinary tract infection
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases
- Painful menstruation
- Chronic urinary tract obstruction/bladder stones
- Obstructed labor
- Increased risk of bleeding and infection during childbirth.
The EndFGM Initiative - Building Capacity in Communities to be Change Agents
The EndFGM Initiative is an innovative project which targets key community influencers who are identified as major perpetrators (community leaders, local excisors, traditional birth attendants, women leaders) of FGM in Nigeria. Our experience has shown that it is important to work with these group of people to effect sustained change in norms and attitudes. Using a human-centred design approach, we have helped several communities understand the dangers of FGM, walked them through the process of abandoning the practice and we have established anti-FGM group that will continuously work to sustain the impact of our intervention. Since inception, the initiative has recorded key successes in helping communities end FGM. Our programs have seen young mothers becoming activists to protect their daughters, perpetrators giving up their trade to speak against the practice, uncircumcised ladies being accepted socially, circumcised ladies telling their stories as a form of activism and community leaders denouncing FGM.
The EndFGM Video
As part of the activities for raising awareness on ending FGM, we have produced videos which talk about the dangers of FGM. The goal of these videos is to raise community awareness on FGM as well as galvanize action from all sectors of the society towards joining hands and ending FGM.
Stories From The Field
“After watching this FGM film and seeing what our daughters go through, I will dedicate my life to make sure no one will do it AGAIN, even outside Kujama town” – Seriki of Kujama town
Seriki Yusuff, the chief of Kujama town shared his views after the training on FGM through edutainment. Villagers watched a movie depicting the harmful practice and stories of survivors. “I had always seen FGM as a way of life for any young girl in the community. We were told, that if as a girl you were not ‘cut’ then you are ‘unclean’, not deserving of a decent marriage and acceptability in the society”. Now, the village chief vows to stop FGM in his town and far beyond. He also set up a youth task force comprising majorly of young men and few young women to monitor his new declaration.
“I never knew this was what I exposed my daughters to, because men are never present when it is done. No wonder my third daughter ran away from home at 11. I feel so guilty” – Alhaji Danladi from Gwari community
Alhaji Danladi was heartbroken after the awareness programme. He specifically begged the women to always explain things to men and they will support them. He described the incident with his third daughter from his second wife. He remembered vividly his daughter Aisha and her mother begging him not to call the excisor on her 12th birthday. But he thought laws were to be obeyed without questions. Unfortunately, his daughter is still missing; and at such, he vows to fight against FGM in his town.
“I bled for 6 days, I was just 5, when the local birth attendant could not stop the bleeding, she told my parents I was an evil child. I still live with the trauma” – Hadizah
Hadizah, a FGM survivor shared her traumatic experience with us. At the age of 5, she was mutilated and bled for 6 days. The local birth attendant could not do anything and labelled her an evil child. News spread round the town and she and her family were stigmatized. Her father had to cycle several miles before getting her to the hospital. She is glad to be alive today, but even as a teenager, her peers still do not want to play with her because of the misconception.