In today’s society, there
are still some harmful cultural practices which impede on the rights of the girl child.
Observers say that such practices include Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), otherwise known as female circumcision.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Female Genital Mutilation as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
“It is practised as a cultural ritual by ethnic groups in 27 countries in sub-Saharan and Northeast Africa, and to a lesser extent in Asia, the Middle East and within immigrant communities elsewhere”.
Reports indicate that not less than 140 million women worldwide have been subjected to FGM, while three million girls are at risk each year.
“This practice is an abuse of human rights and it causes serious health complications, including fatal bleeding,’’ says the United Nations (UN) in a report.
The journal of Annals of Medical Health Sciences Research (2012) says that the subjection of girls and women to obscure traditional practices in Nigeria is legendary.
It adds that FGM is an unhealthy traditional practice inflicted on girls and women worldwide which is recognised as a violation of human rights.
“FGM is widely practiced in Nigeria, as the country has the highest absolute number of cases in the world; accounting for about one-quarter of the estimated 115 to 130 million circumcised women worldwide”.
Decrying the dangers of female circumcision, Dr Maureen Ume, a gynaecologist at National Hospital, Abuja, insists that female circumcision is a death trap for women.
According to her, FGM includes procedures which intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
She explains that these procedures can lead to severe bleeding and urinary problems.
“It can also lead to complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths,’’ she adds.
The gynaecologist says that some women or children are exposed to some immediate complications, including bleeding, tetanus infection, urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissues.
“The long-term consequences can include recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, increased risks of childbirth complications and newborn deaths,” she says.
Ume also notes that some women could experience painful intercourse, thereby requiring surgery in the clitoris.
She says that FGM procedures are mostly carried out on young girls, ranging from months’ old infants to 15-year-old teens, and occasionally on adult women.
She emphasises that FGM has no health benefits, insisting that it harms girls and women in many ways, as it involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissues, while interfering with the natural functions of the victims’ bodies.
“Most of the time, it is done without anaesthesia for a child of that tender age, as the child is exposed to chronic pain and bleeding; sometimes leading to death.
“The woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures of surgery, further increasing and repeating both immediate and long-term risks,’’ Ume says.
The gynaecologist says that the practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as birth attendants.
Ume says that FGM has been recognised internationally as a violation of the fundamental human rights of girls and women.
“It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.
“It is nearly always carried out on minors and it is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity.
“Such rights include the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death,’’ she says.
Ume particularly calls for increased public awareness activities on the dangers of FGM as part of efforts to stop the cruel practice in the country.
Sharing similar sentiments, Dr Rilwanu Mohammed, the Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Health Care Board, says that female circumcision is of four types.
“There is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce; partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal,’’ he says.
He adds that the fourth type involves all other harmful procedures on the female genitalia such as pricking and piercing.
Mohammed, who frowns at the practice, says that young girls are subjected to circumcision because of the erroneous notion that it “reduces sexual desires, in order to curtail promiscuity and promote virginity before marriage”.
He says that other reasons include promoting social integration and initiation of girls into womanhood.
The executive secretary says that female circumcision could result in Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF).
“Female circumcision is a social problem like HIV; it makes a woman feel inferior and incomplete,” he says.
Mohammed discloses that the FCT Primary Health Care Board has already embarked on a public enlightenment campaign to dissuade the people from engaging in FGM.
“Religious and traditional leaders are being educated on the dangers of female circumcision and we are sure this will help us in our efforts to bring female circumcision to an end,|” he says.
Mohammed, nonetheless, calls on the Federal Government to review the National Policy and Plan of Action on the Elimination of FGM in Nigeria so as to restructure it to be in line with global trends.
With Nigeria having FGM national prevalence rate of 30 per cent, experts say that elimination of female circumcision is crucial to efforts to attain national and international health goals.
“Eliminating FGM will promote gender equality, reduce infant mortality rate, improve maternal health and help control HIV/AIDS in Nigeria,” some of them say.
Besides, the experts say the fight against female circumcision will strengthen calls for the passage of the Violence against Persons Prohibition Bill.
All the same, the WHO says it is committed to the elimination of FGM in the society, adding that it is, therefore, focusing on advocacy, research and guidance for health professionals and health systems.
Sharang is of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Woman Sells Two Daughters For N300,000 In Ogun
A 35-year-old housewife, Blessing Agoro, has been arrested by men of Ogun State Police Command for allegedly selling her two daughters, Semilore Agoro (four), and Deborah Agoro (two).
The suspect was arrested, following a report lodged at Redeemed Camp Divisional Police Headquarters by her husband, Oluwaseyi Agoro.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi disclosed this in a statement, yesterday.
Oyeyemi said the husband reported that when he returned from travelling last Tuesday he couldn’t find his two daughters.
The PPRO said, “The man stated further that all efforts to make his wife tell him the whereabouts of the children proved abortive, hence his report.
“Upon the report, the DPO Redeemed Camp division, CSP Alabi Akinjide, detailed his detectives to apprehend the suspect, who had already been with the camp’s code of conduct department.
“On interrogation, the suspect explained to the police that her husband left home for the past two years, and while he was away, she found it difficult to cater for the two children with her other two children she had for another man.
“She stated further that while she was contemplating on what to do, one Kolawole Imoleayo introduced her to a couple in Port Harcourt who was in need of children. She sold the two daughters to the couple at the rate of N300,000.
“Her confession led to the arrest of the said intermediary, Kolawole Imoleayo. They are both assisting the police in their investigation.”
The Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun, has ordered the transfer of the suspects to the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Labour Unit of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCID) for discreet investigation.
Oyeyemi added that Ajogun directed that the children must be rescued and brought back to their parents as soon as possible.
World Bank Trains 54,000 Women, Youths On Economy
The Kebbi State Government has disclosed that over 54,000 women and youths have been trained by the World Bank to be economically active.
The government also revealed its readiness to reciprocate its achievement recorded in rice production in other products such as onions, sheer-butter and soya beans for exportation purposes.
The Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who stated this while launching women and youth export development facility, in partnership with Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), said, the state has comparative advantage in agriculture over other states.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Umar Babale Yauri, Bagudu said, “As you know, Kebbi State is blessed with a population of women who are engaging in rice production and it is now a top talk across the nation due to efforts and support of state governor.
“The state government is trying to reciprocate the achievement recorded in the rice production into sheer butter, onions and soya beans.”
He added that with the partnership with NEXIM, Kebbi State would start the export of soya beans, shea butter and onions.
The Special Adviser to State Governor on Women Development, Hajia Zarau Wali, disclosed that through partnership with the World Bank, over 54,000 women have been trained to be economically active.
According to her, “It is also worthy of note, that the state government in partnership with the World Bank empowered 54,000 women to be economically active through the formation of Women Initiative Group in Maiyama, Ngaski and Argungu local government areas.”
She explained that more women and youths, especially in the rural areas, are actively involved in the production of rice, sheer butter, onions and water melon stressed that they are capable of feeding the nation and exporting the products if they were properly guided.
Wali urged NEXIM to include in their programmes mode of processing and packages of perishable products during their training session for women and youths.
Earlier, the Managing Director and Chief Executive, Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Mr Abba Bello, had commended the state government over it investment on rice production in the state which has increased the IGR of the state.
“Let me commend the investment drive in the state by your administration, particularly the Rice Revolution, which recently led to the unveiling of the rice pyramid as well as the cassava-based ethanol project with huge prospects for production of biofuel and renewable energy.
“Your efforts in this direction have not only contributed to the significant increase in the Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) but have also positively impacted the socio-economic indices particularly in the areas of jobs creation and sustainable development”.
Eve Afrique Red Ball Takes Centre Stage In PH, Sunday
This year’s Eve Afrique Red Ball event with theme: “Together, Ensuring Peace and Development Across the Niger Delta”, is set to take place on Sunday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
In an interview, the Editor in Chief of Eve Afrique Magazine, Mrs Ivy Davis Etokakpan, said, this year’s Red Ball event is the 10th and will focus on the socio-economic wealth of the Niger Delta region.
She stated that, over the years, Eve Afrique had worked on eight health related issues, but this time, because of times and seasons, “we are focusing on peace and development across the Niger Delta.
According to her, “we hope to achieve this with the cooperation of leaders of corporate organisations in the Niger Delta. We believe that with the cause action on the Red Ball, we hope to do that with our Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Eve Afrique Empowerment Initiative”.
Etokakpan added that this year will focus basically on internship programme for young people by asking partners of the NGO to accept and train secondary school students during holidays in their companies.
She said, “in the past, we used to do vacation jobs in the oil companies, even in our parents’ companies. We hope that our partners would teach our children workable skills. If this is done, the Niger Delta child would know his or her skill and work on it.
“We want these young ones to learn management and accountancy skills through these internship programmes. Our dream is that, in five years’ time, we would have raised a group of’ equipped and empowered Niger Delta youths who in turn will mentor those coming after them. We need to prepare these ones for the future.
At the Red Ball event this weekend, we expect Elsphon Nigeria Alabo (Dr) Emi Membrane-Otaji, Managing Director, to present a keynote address on “Economic Development across the Niger Delta. Also, former MD of NDDC, Mr Timi Alaibe will present a paper on Peace Across the Niger Delta at the event”, she said.
It would be recalled that over the years, Eve Afrique Red Ball has achieved levels of successes over the previous Red Ball events in raising awareness on general health matters, empowerment programmes as a way of giving back to the state and society at large.
Eve Afrique had hosted programmes which include the sickle cell awareness programme, cervical cancer awareness and prevention programme, diabetic management awareness and prevention programme, prostate cancer awareness programme and colon cancer awareness programmes.
Eve Afrique had the mandate of changing the narrative concerning the Niger Delta.
They are on a mission to highlight and showcase the beauty of the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole, she added.
By: Ibinabo Ogolo
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