By Sola Ogundipe
FOR almost 70 years, Chief Isaiah Fayomi has practised as a professional circumciser, and currently, he holds sway in Ile Ife, Osun state as the Head of Circumcisers. During a 2-day media dialogue on Female Genital Mutilation & Cutting, FGM/C, and abandonement, organised by UNICEF in Osogbo, the 83-year-old that is reknowed for circumcising both males and females, related how, for the best part of 60 years, he was actively involved in the practice of female circumcision on girls and women of all ages.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly, Fayomi, who hails from Ile Ife, said the duty of ‘cutting’ females was bestowed on him by tradition, and he was really good and popular at it, and he even taught his wife, Christianah, how to circumcise in 1987.
“I inherited the practice I met my forefathers doing it and they knew exactly why it was important for females to be circumcised. “When I was a young boy, I was circumcised along with my male and female siblings. We were seven in number. I have since been circumcising people regardless of sex or age. I used to circumcise people of all ages, even pregnant women and I did it well until recently we were told not to circumcise females again.”
Fayemi avowed that he has since stopped circumcising females because he doesn’t want to go against the law of the land. “I stopped female circumcision in the last seven years, but I still circumcise males. My wife has also stopped. No one circumcises females in Ile Ife or in Osun state anymore,” Fayomi explained.
The octogenarian said female circumcision had been a long-term traditional practice and the belief was that females that are not circumcised would be promiscuous. “In the whole of Ile Ife, Modakeke, Ipoku, Ede, Ikire and environs, I am well known, because when I circumcise, it heals very fast. People recommend me and I even do home visits.
There is no age limit to when a man or woman cannot be circumcised by me. I circumcise the young and old, Citing instances of his exploits, he recalled a woman that was brought to him after she had been circumcised by somebody else.
“She had developed some growths on her genitalia and that was becoming an eyesore, so I had to recircumcise her.”
But after the Osun state government intervened and I was enlightened about the health hazards to women, I decided to support that female circumcision should be abandoned.
On her own part, Mrs Christiana Fayomi who has been a successful circumciser for close to 29 years, admitted that she had no idea that circumcising girls amd women was harmful.
Converted: “The stoppage met us suddenly. On July 2, 2015, there was an intervention by the government for circumcisers in Osogbo, and I was able to appreciate the dangers of FGM/C. I saw the diagrammatic representation of the female genitalia and was tutored about the ills of the practice and I am now promoting its abandonement.
Christianah, who said she charges between N500-N1,000 to circumcise an infant or child, while adults usually pay N5,000, is now a convert.
“When I got to know about the ills of female circumcision, I was surprised. They explained everything to us, and said we should stop doing it. We all agreed that we were going to stop it and we have stopped ever since.”
But Sadiat Babatunde, a community member in Ile Ife, remains astute. “Personally I think it is good to circumcise girls and women. Not doing so would make them promiscous.Even a man that is not circumcised would not enjoy his life. An uncircumcised woman would be promiscuous and uncomfortable,” she argued.