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Female Genital Mutilation: A Persistent Cultural Scourge

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Female Genital Mutilation

By Olukemi Ayoola

In spite of efforts by the government and various Non-Governmental Organisation in Nigeria to stop the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, it is alarming to know that such practices are still not only on, but it is on high increase most especially in South-West Nigeria.

Female genital mutilation is simply known as female circumcision which is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.

This has been practised from generation to generation based on the cultural brief and social norms on what is considered acceptable sexual behaviour. It aims to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity.

FGM is in many communities believed to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore believed to help her resist extramarital sexual acts. Awareness campaign and education about the medical, social, and psychosexual complications involved in FGM, the abuse of the rights of the girls or the women and that FGM has no medical, sociocultural or religion benefit is a potent tool in the abandonment of FGM.

Education gives the vulnerable group the power to take a firm decision for themselves or for their female children based on the information received and not relying on taboos or beliefs that will endanger their reproductive lives or that of their girl child or send them to early and untimely deaths.

Olubunmi Abisola Fowowe has to protect her daughters from harmful traditional practices which often result in the premature death of girls and women, mental torture and physical abuse, persecution, infection and loss of sexual pleasure. Her love for her beloved daughters and family had resulted in her sudden ‘disappearance’ from the country and ran for her dear life because of continuous threat and persecution from her in-laws.

Like a hen guarding its chicks, Abisola Fowowe made great attempts to prevent her daughters from being subjected to the outlawed tradition of FGM.

She narrated her sudden relocation and her harrowing experience in the hands of her husband’s family who are from Ilesha, Osun State. They have vowed to deal with both her husband and herself physically and diabolically for refusing to circumcise their daughters.

READ ALSO: NGO wants female genital mutilation practice criminalised

The threat, pressure and persecution got to the peak immediately after the birth of her second daughter and her inability to give them male child which may be an end to their family name and of their lineage. She was summoned to a council of elder’s meeting in May 2016 where their decision to have her both daughters excised. The family listed all the bad consequences that may arise if she refuses to consent.

Her attempt to prevent her daughters from being subjected to this archaic tradition of circumcision has made her to leave the shore of the country. To make the matter worse, the law enforcement agencies and Human Right and Protection agencies had failed to assure her of protection of lives and properties because her in-laws are always having their ways. They are quite influential. This is shocking to Abisola and vowed never to allow what happened to her to happen to her daughters.

Since October 2017, nothing whatsoever had been heard from Abisola Fowowe and her family. Her in-laws are threatening to deal with her any day they set their eyes on her. Her offence had doubled before them for absconding and violating the traditions and customs of their family. It is regarded as a slap on their face and a taboo because they have been reduced to nothing in their community.

Several letters had been sent to her parents residing in Abeokuta Ogun State threatening to deal with them diabolically for supporting and covering their daughter.

Report reaching me shows that they have sent delegates to their apartment in one of the estates at Ipaja, a suburb of Lagos and carted away all their belongings immediately after her ‘disappearance’. The threat from her mother-in-law and the families had gotten worse despite all the appeal from their son to desist from this barbaric act.

I have not gotten in touch with her since she left the country. I am using this opportunity to implore all stakeholders and the lawmakers to come together and abolish this archaic practice that has been in existence for ages. This will save the lives of thousands of people who are undergoing such horrible, trauma, emotional and physical abuse.

Olukemi Ayoola from Ilesha, Osun State


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