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Project on International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

Team SOTHAWACA carried out a One Day SensitizationProgramto commemoratethe International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation on the 6th of February, 2017 in Okpokhumi-Emai Community, Owan East Local Government Areaof Edo State, South-South Region Nigeria.This activity was done in collaboration with The GirlGeneration from United Kingdom. During this time, we had an interactive awareness session participantswere enlightened on the need to stop the Female Genital Mutilation.Our Team listened as many of the women who participated during the programgave various reasonswhy Female Genital Mutilationis still practiced in the Community.

The wife of the Vicar of St Peters Anglican Church Okpokhumi-Emai Community was the first woman to begin our interactive session after the introduction of the topic and all other formalities made. She stated that unlike male circumcision, there was no where in the Bible where the circumcision of a female child was evermentioned.She emphasized thatFemale genital mutilation has always been practiced in a number of communities under the mistaken belief that it was a demandthat was supported by religion. She believedthe aim of using religion wasto curb the hyper sexuality of females.

For every reason that was given, a justifiable explanation was given. One of the major reasonthe womengave was the fact thatif a girl child is not circumcised, her first child will not stay (die). We are of the opinion thatpoverty, illiteracy and low social status tend to cause major rife within the community. Our people believe so much in and are more likely to follow traditions. We were amused when we were told that it is believed that Female Genital Mutilation enhanced fertility and promoted child survival especially the 1st born, better marriage prospects and helps delivery of babies

Clearly, our Team immediately related this reason to be a cultural norm which has been a major determinant of Female Genital Mutilation in the community. This by and large has greatly had influences on the lifestyles and behavioral pattern of the women of that community. As a result of this, our Team were mad to understand thatFemale Genital Mutilationis still been practiced in the community because it is part of the societal norms that was practiced and passed down by their mothers and grandmothers. Therefore, any attempt to discontinue the practice is met with societal/communal pressures and risk of isolation. The women of the community seethe practice as a way ofidentifyingwith their cultural heritage, initiation of girls into womanhood, social integration and maintenance of social cohesion and social acceptance.

One of the women stressed that the practice ensured thatrespectability of a woman is maintained as an enhancement towards her chances of marriage. Others linkedFemale Genital Mutilation is with purity and preservation of virginity, to attenuate sexual desire in the female, maintain chastity and virginity before marriage and fidelity during marriage, and increase male sexual pleasure. Female Genital Mutilation on the other hand is considered to be a means of purification of a womanboth physically and spiritually in order that children are considered pure and legitimate.

While all the numerous reasons were given to buttress the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, women among the participants gave their counter opinions. One woman got up to say that she was circumcised as an adult soon after she got married and yet her 1st born died.She however said that that she did not circumcise her only daughter because that daughter refused and yet she (the daughter) has had her children and none have died.

After much advice from the Team SOTHAWACAand Vicar’s wife, the participantsnow saw how harmful circumcising a girl child could be and they all bought the idea to stop the act in the community and they also pleaded for an awareness to be carried out subsequently in the community, so that everybody in the community will know how harmful the act is. So we ended the programon the need for continuous sensitization and awareness creation on the need to stop female genital mutilation.

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Gender-based Violence
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