FGM: Our Ordeals – Survivors

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The negative effect of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) cannot be over emphasized in Ebonyi State, Nigeria and beyond. This is because survivors of this harmful practice inherited from our forefathers, are beginning to recount the ugly experiences they pass through on daily basis the challenge or the other associated with the act.

On Tuesday 7th January, 2020, an indigenous Non-Governmental Organization in Ebonyi State, Mother and Child Care Foundation for the New Generation (MCCFNG) in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Women Affairs engaged community health workers in a two-day training on the issue.

During the training, survivors of Female Genital Mutilation shared their experiences and challenged the actors (Traditional Birth Attendants), government at all levels and civil society organizations as well as women groups to join hands to stop female genital mutilation in the state.

MCCFNG also trains, advocates of FGM with the mandate to report any health worker or birthday attended secretly practising FGM in their locality.

One of the survivors who gave her name as Chief Mrs. Onwe Ngozika from Amofia Mgbo, Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State said by God’s grace, she never had episiotomy during child birth but she still feel pain during sexual intercourse with her husband hence the reason for government to implement law denouncing FGM.

She said, “I never had Episiotomy, but I still feel pain while having sex with my husband even at this age, it is bad; our people must stop it.”

“I am much more concerned about FGM because I had one experience in 2016, one of my namesakes, the parents called her, connived with her and mutilated her genitalia and the girl started bleeding until her body became white. I asked her what was wrong she pretended not to know, so I started doing examination because I suspected that she had been mutilated and so later while observing the child, I discovered she was bleeding from the vagina I started treating her and it cost me about N10,000 to revive her.”

“And because it is not in the bible, is not good for our health, I am standing bold to condemn it and ask our people to stop it. Only male circumcision is in the bible Exodus chapter 4 so I am highly against FGM.”

Blessing Chijioke (not real name) from Afikpo North on her part said her marriage was in the mercy of God as her inability to satisfy the husband has always brought problem in the house.

“Earlier before now I didn’t know the cause. I was worried not until I attended this workshop. As a survivor, I have come to know that FGM is bad. It has been a problem within me. I can stay for one year without having fun and is bringing problem between me and my husband. Now that I know that it is evil, I am urging our people to stop it. Government should put more effort in educating our health workers so that we will go on and promote the view that FGM is harmful to our communities to our health facilities.

Female Genital Mutilation

On the people that perform the harmful act, she suggested government should empower them with other sources of living. “Because they do it as their source of livelihood, they can’t accept easily that they will stop it that is why they go on secretly doing it. If government can empower them, they can stop it but if there is no empowerment they will still continue to do the harmful act to our children claiming that they don’t have source of income.

Earlier in her presentation, Mrs. Maryjane Arua of Mother and Child Care Foundation for the New Generation, noted that some health facilities still practice female genital mutilation saying that the traditional FGM attendants don’t perform it like health workers who would use mechanized health instruments like analgesic but warned them to stop it that it was wrong.

Mrs. Arua emphasized that health workers should not attempt to perform such act because it is harmful in all ramifications.

She said any health worker caught in the act shall lose his or her license or go to jail for four years with a fine of N400,000 as stipulated by the law.

She urged health workers to forget the little N2000 they collect from the parents who bring their wards for mutilation and do the right by teaching them to stop it.

A resource person and CEO Neighbourhood Initiative for Women Advancement (NIWA), Nancy Oko Onya noted that there are people whose lives are determined by practices made by others even to their detriment.

She enjoined the health workers, to stand against FGM and should not let the people die in ignorance.

Nancy Oko Onyia said, “Whether cutting, massaging with Vaseline or using ring, use of needle to prick of the tip of the clitoris to ensure drop of blood, massaging with hot water are all harmful practice which mothers must stop”.

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