War Against Female Genital Mutilation Project, Osun State

One voice initiative for women and children emancipation (OVIWCE), upon being conversant with the most prominent issue faced by the female populace of Osun state, decided to embark on  “ the war against female genital mutilation” project. Statistics showed that Osun state has the largest percentage of this practice in Nigeria, hence, the importance to organize a program that will best tackle this problem within the societies of Osun state.

The project was divided into two phases, in which the first phase has taken place. The audience of the first phase was planned to be the local government officials and the representatives of community leaders. The second phase will take place on Obafemi Awolowo University’s campus in which the audience will comprise of secondary school students and undergraduates. The first phase took place on the 13th of September 2018, in which two guest speakers were available. The invited speakers talked broadly on female genital mutilation to give volunteers a unified and undivided view on the concept. The Iyalaje’s and Iyaolojas’s representatives and Ife-East local government’s chairman were in attendance.

The conference started exactly at 9am with the opening prayers carried out by Miss Titilayo, the Osun State’s OVIWCE treasurer. Immediately after this, Miss Ayo Bello, the first speaker was called upon to give her presentation. The first speaker spoke insightfully for over 45minutes and her approach was quite practical, in which she gave us a detailed definition of FGM which she defined as the total or partial removal of the female genitalia. There are four major types according to her, the first type is the total removal of the female genitalia, the second is the partial removal of the genitalia, the third type is usually carried out on children few period after birth in which a hot object will be placed on the female genitalia to deaden the cells present there, the final type comprises of the piercing and stitching the female external genitalia leaving a very small space for urination and menstruation. Going further, she talked extensively on the reasons people practice FGM. The reasons, according to her vary from the fact that the practice was done to curb sexual excesses in female due to their cultural beliefs. Questions were asked and they were duly answered by the guest speaker. Some of the questions asked were;

Q: “How would you know you were mutilated?”

A: “The best approach is to go on the internet and search for the picture of non-mutilated female genitalia with appropriate labeling and make a comparison.” She replied.

Q:  “What are the long term effects of FGM?”

A:  “The psychological effects could be depression, shock and so on. A mutilated person usually have difficulties giving birth, the complications usually varies from excessive blood loss to damage in the parts of the baby’s body as a result of the little space left for it to pass through.” She replied.

Moving away from this, Miss Ayo Bello divided the participants into four groups with an assignment to give practical solutions on how to eradicate FGM in a society, such as the societies of Osun state still carrying out this practice. Then, a speaker was selected in each group to give a recap of what was discussed. The first group led by Miss Titilola brought the idea of sensitizing secondary school students on the negative effects of FGM, who will, in turn, take it back home to preach against it and also seeking the support of influential people in the society such as the Oba’s who have the power to influence the people. The second group led by Miss Tolulope proposed that religious bodies be sensitized on the negative effects of FGM; they will, in turn, influence their wards by speaking against it, for most religious people usually respect the views of their religious leaders. The third group led by Miss Grace proposed that outreach should be made in rural areas, people living in cities should be sensitized on FGM because people don’t know the practice still exist, fliers should be created that talks more on the concept, and also the social media should be bombarded on the negative effects of FGM, people should see it as a violation of the female rights. Finally, group four was led by Miss Mary who spoke extensively on the need to channel our efforts supremely on the areas in which this practice is practiced, she said this in response to the inputs of the previous speaker. Hence, she proposed that a rally be made that will take participants to the hearth of the practice, where we could meet up with the people practicing this act and make them see reasons why the practice should be abolished. Miss Ayo Bello was impressed by the practical approach; she expressed her sincere gratitude and then rounded up her speech.

Miss Oluwafikemi

Next in line was the introduction of OVIWCE carried out by Miss Oluwafikemi, the State Coordinator of OVIWCE. She spoke extensively on what OVIWCE stands for; it’s aims and objectives. Miss Oluwafikemi also spoke on the projects embarked upon by OVIWCE one of which is the “ She Needs A Pad Project (SNAPP)”. Here, she spoke in details of the struggles faced especially in rural areas. She exposed the fact that so many of the children living in the rural areas do not understand the importance of using a sanitary pad during menstruation, hence, they end up using unhygienic materials like a piece of cloth during their menstrual period. Some of the reasons for this poverty. Miss Oluwafikemi, therefore, opened the floor for sponsors who were willing to support the projects embarked upon by OVIWCE.

Mrs. Aderibigbe Costly, the second speaker,  proceeded to give us her view on FGM. She gave us a definition similar to Miss Bello’s; She also talked on the types and some compelling reasons for practicing FGM. The most distinctive part of her presentation was the illogical reasons people give to practice FGM some of which is; they believe that the female genitalia will be as long as the males male organ if it is not mutilated, it is also believed that the female genitalia just like that of the male will accumulate dirt if not mutilated.  Mrs. Aderibigbe Costly spur up an emotional part of the participants by talking on the need to view FGM as a violation of the female’s right, and we must fight to see that it is eradicated. She spoke extensively on the pain and agony faced by the victims of the practice.

After the second speaker finished the presentation, the practical session was held in which participants moved out en masse to speak to the community women and men about the repercussions of this practice.

The participants headed back to the hall, got seated and the vote of thanks was given by Miss Durotimi Omoyele who is the FGM’s project secretary. Then everyone headed out to take the group picture. Afterward, the menus were served. This officially marked the end of the program.

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