Though many see Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a fading tradition especially in the north, research has revealed that it is still in practice and Kaduna state accounts for 21 per cent of its national practice.
It was against this backdrop that EndFGM Kaduna, a project that seeks to bring to the fore the dangers of female circumcision, held a sensitization workshop for journalists on Wednesday in Kaduna, North West Nigeria.
Presenting a paper on ‘Understanding Female Genital Mutilation’, Dr Attahiru Abubakar of EU-SIGN said FGM is a surgical procedure that involves partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons among which is to prevent promiscuity in young girls.
He added that this harmful practice often exposes its victims to serious health conditions like reproductive tract infection, pelvic inflammatory diseases, chronic urinary tract obstruction/bladder stones and increased risk of bleeding and infection during childbirth among others.
He classified FGM into four types: Clitoridectomy is the least severe form of the practice and involves the removal of the hood or of the clitoris and or part of the clitoris itself. The second is a more severe practice of removing the Clitoris along with partial or total excision of the labia minora.
He said the most severe form of FGM being infibulation involves the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the adjacent medial part of the labia majora, and the stitching of the vaginal opening leaving an opening the size of a pinhead to allow for the flow of urine and menstrual blood.
Others, he noted are all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
Abubakar decried the effect of genital mutilation on the emotional, social and health status of the victims and called on the media, traditional and religious leaders to take the lead in sensitizing the public on the dangers of FGM so as to eliminate such practices; adding that there is no cultural practice that cannot be reviewed especially if it affects the wellbeing of its victims.
EndFGM coordinator Elizabeth Anche said the sensitization workshop became necessary as so many women are suffering in silence as a result of FGM. She revealed that NDS report shows Kaduna is second to Kano in the North West region in the prevalence of FGM and added that the cause cannot be achieved without the active participation of the media.
Coordinator, Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF), Sekyen Dadik said it is good that journalists are being educated on FGM and is optimistic that they are going to use the information to enlighten people through in-depth reports in their different media.
Mallam Abbas Shehu from Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) said the onus was on all and not just the media to speak out against female genital mutilation, and called on participants to speak at every given opportunity.
Some of the participants who coincidentally were victims of FGM shared their experiences and emphasized the need for enlightenment especially among those who see it as a standing tradition. They expressed gratitude to the organizers for enriching their knowledge of FGM.
The workshop which took place at the AMDF training room was organized by EndFGM Kaduna with support from AMDF, WRAPA and Voices 4 Change.