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Commemoration of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

The Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Unit of Action Health Incorporated (AHI) organized a seminar on Friday, February 10, 2012 to commemorate the 2012 International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation with the theme “the role of men and boys in elimination of Female Genital Mutilation”. The organization engaged in-school young people from Somolu, Kosofe, Yaba and Bariga secondary schools who turned out in large number as the programme commenced at exactly 1:40 pm.

The seminar started with an overview of the theme by Ms. Ijiwole. She explained that the day has been designated by the United Nations to raise awareness amongst the general public about this traditional practice which severely violates the human rights of women and girls. Furthermore, she specified that the myth behind the cutting or mutilation of the female genitalia is that it prevents women from being promiscuous, as the mutilation of the genital, especially the cutting of the clitoris reduces sexual urge and satisfaction. Then, she ushered in Mrs. Margaret Onah, the Executive Director of Safehaven International with a loud applause to talk to the students about the roles of men and boys in elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Mrs. Onah started by explaining the meaning of FGM; she defined it as ‘the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or all of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. She gave the types of FGM to be Types 1, 2, 3 and 4 and explained each extensively. She highlighted the prevalence of FGM in Nigeria and Africa at large. She stated that the main causes of this harmful practice which are: to make the females clean, culture and tradition of some people etc. Mrs. Onah stressed the fact that there is really not any law in Nigeria preventing this practice presently but the use of the part of the Nigerian constitution that says “every Nigerian has the right to pleasure”. She then gave statistics of the rate at which FGM is being practiced in Nigerian states. The statistics indicated that Osun state has the ranking.

She rounded off emphasizing that FGM does not only limit the female’s ability to enjoy sexual intercourse, but also leads to some unbearable complications during labour and child birth and has no health benefits to girls and women.

The students asked several questions like ‘Do victims have pains when they engage in sex’?, ‘Why do they cut the clitoris’?, ‘After cutting the clitoris, where do they take it to’?, ‘After the circumcision, will the victim give birth’? and ‘Those that circumcise the girls are they circumcised too’? All the questions were duly answered. An evaluation of the event indicated that the total of 234 students learned about FGM and especially the need to eliminate the practice.

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