Njideka Ekuma Mbam: She Ran and Her Whole Community Had to Make A Decision

There are stories that you hear and it just gladens your heart in a warm way. And when something you were a part of contributes to the success of the story then you get a sense of fulfillment that you have made a difference in someone’s life. The telephone number featured on the FGMC sensitization radio drama “Pim Pim Pim” became a life line to people who attempted to get help for three girls on the run.

Njideka had listened to education talks about the negative effects of female genital mutilation and cutting also known as female circumcision on girls in school and in church. In her community girls must go through the rite of female circumcision to attain womanhood and soon the drums heralding her time to be cut began to sound.

A few days to her being circumcised Njideka ran to protect herself. Two other girls joined her. A series of event took place which finally lead to the IZZI community abandoning FGMC. Njideka is indeed a brave girl and a hero in the fight against a harmful cultural practice. Here is a short video telling her story and that of her community:

Adebisi Adetunji (C) BusyBee Media for Social Change & Development. Email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com twitter – @DebisiBusybee 

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Speaking out Against Gender Based Violence for #16days #GBV

 

25th November – 10th December are 16 days to bring to fore issues surrounding gender based violence every year.

I am hoping it will all not end on the talk tables. On femininematerz we will take a look at progress made in ending gender based violence and areas work still needs to be done.

The first step to putting a stop to GBV is for those who suffer in silence to speak up. Don’t die in silence, there is help out there.

This discussion continues in a next post…

Adebisi Adetunji (C)
BusyBee Media for Social Change & Development.
Email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

CIRDDOC : Advocacy and Behavior Change Messages Development Workshop to Accelerate Abandonment of FGMC – Understanding Why FGMC is still in Practice.

The campaign to end female genital mutilation and cutting (FGMC) has been on for many years, yet it is still been practiced by many people and communities across the world. Statistics show that FGMC is practiced in about 28 countries across the world. It is said that 3million girls are at risk of being cut per year. This then is a serious problem.

Why all the hulabulah about ending FGMC or female circumcision as some people say, after all boys are also circumcised? It is different in the sense that this practice is a violation of the human/sexual rights of the girl child and women on many levels.

A girl is primarily cut in the vagina because society does not want her to be promiscuous; it is a right of passage to womanhood; a guarantee to be able to get married in the community. Cutting her clitoris or other parts of her vagina is meant to deaden any sexual urge that could make her look for a man to sleep with. No wonder then that after she gets married, she cannot achieve sexual satisfaction. This becomes a problem in the relationship as the man becomes also dissatisfied and looks for sexual enjoyment from other women.

A story in point: A man got married to a woman, not from his tribe where girls are circumcised. At first, this wasn’t an issue for him as he simply loved her and wanted to marry her. Many years later after they have both had children he suddenly wakes up one day to say that he wanted her to get circumcised. What changed? His family put pressure on him that it was their custom to cut their girls and women therefore since she is married to their son, she had to go through it. In order to save her marriage, this woman went ahead to be circumcised. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain she went through at such an adult age. Soon afterward the couple began to have issues with their sex life. As I write this the marriage collapsed as the man went in search of sexual satisfaction elsewhere. This woman was whole why cut her and create problems?

Why Behavioral Change is difficult: Points of discussion in the Workshop

  • Behavioral or attitudinal change takes time because it has to do with a belief system which would probably have been in practice for a long time. People do not change easily but with continuous dialogue and sensitization then a change is possible.
  • There is need to also understand why people or communities practice FGMC. Contrary to beliefs it is not intended to harm the girl but to celebrate her womanhood in many communities. Unfortunately, the adverse effects on the life of women, girls, and families are enormous. This include birth complications.
  • Engaging in dialogue and continuous intervention programs with practitioners will help to convince and change stereotype minds.
  • Medicalization of the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting : it has been discovered that some health workers in some communities encourage this practice. This is because they also come from such background and believe in upholding this culture. Messages targeted at making it clear it is unethical was designed to reach this group.
  • To achieve Behavioral change on any issue or practice there is need to create effective messages in appropriate formats in order to reach the target audience.
  • It is necessary to make an assessment from time to time the progress made in bringing about the attitudinal change.

 At the workshop on Advocacy & behavioral Change messages to accelerate the abandonment of FGMC participants’ drawn from various groups, professions from different parts of Nigeria assessed old messages to know whether they are appropriate and effective as new ones were developed.

If the practice of killing of twins and tribal marks could be abandoned then it is possible to end FGMC

 Facilitators :
Benjamin C. Mbakwem,
FGM/C Consultant for Ebonyi & Imo State
UNICEF Enugu Field Office
Phone: +(234)-803-3330586
Toyin Afachung,  Communication for Development Consultant
Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Woman To Woman Talk #23 She Won’t Let Them Do It!

Recently while talking to Mariam (not real name) who was delivered of her baby girl a few months ago, she revealed something that surprised me and I was touched. We were simply talking about certain cultural practices that are harmful to the wellbeing of our children. After she had her baby, a discussion between her mother-in-law and some older women took place. There was a plan to circumcise Mariam’s little girl but there was, however, a stumbling block. Mariam’s mother-in-law knew that she was stubborn and wondered what to do about ensuring that the old custom is upheld in the interest of her granddaughter or so it seems. One day this mother-in-law finally presented the matter to Mariam who stood her ground in refusing to have her daughter cut in the vagina. An argument ensued but Mariam prevailed. She points blank told her mother-in-law that she would not allow anyone to cut her little girl! And I must also commend Mariam’s husband here who supported the decision not to allow their daughter to be cut. I mean he could have sanctioned the plan to do this in the name of not wanting to offend his family.

I was surprised that this practice of mutilating girls in their vagina was still been practiced amongst the educated elites. Often we think that some harmful practices that we try to create awareness about with the intention of ending it, is simply a problem common among the uneducated rural. This is not the case many times.

So dear woman, do not sit on the fence thinking that there is nothing you can do about ending any form of abuse or practice that can be harmful to your child. Yes, a lot of times, particularly in our strong African cultural heritage men, decide something’s but this is not to say you should not speak up when it is a matter of what could harm you or your child.

Speaking up and saying NO, is the first step in protecting our girls from child marriage, female genital mutilation and cutting(FGMC) and other forms of harmful practices.

This post was inspired by discussions from a workshop on Advocacy & behavior Change Messages Development to abandonment of FGMC that I am participating in. It is put together by Civil Source Development & Documentation Cenre(CIRDDOC) Nigeria in partnership with UNFPA

Adebisi Adetunji (c)

 

International Day of The Girl Child, 2017

The International Day of the girl child is celebrated on the 11th of October every year, the world over.

The general theme according to the UN Women is tagged, “Empower girls: Before, during and after conflict. Many parts of the world in recent times have various forms of conflicts and war. No continent is left out of the heart wrenching mindless killings. Families and everyone who find themselves caught in these conflicts suffer so much loss no doubt.

In Nigeria, we have the Boko Haram conflict in the northeast and many girls and women have been abducted. They are made to cook, clean and carry out the menial chores for the terrorist. Aside these,  the girls are forced to become young wives and mothers. I can not imagine the emotional trauma and conflicts that go on in the minds of these victims. Thankfully some have regained their freedom. How much of rehabilitation work is being done to reintegrate them into society is another matter entirely. But many other girls were used as child suicide bombers and others caught in between the crossfire lost their lives.

It is my hope and great heart desire that the war against insurgency and terrorism will be won in the northeast Nigeria and the world over. (This feels like a very tall dream). But we can still make the world safer for every girl and everyone as we each person begins to value peace and other human beings.

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

Just thinking Out Aloud… Are we paying enough Attention to our Boys & Men? key to Gender equality and creating a safe environment for women & Girls

We talk so much about empowering women and girls that I feel we are beginning to leave the boys and men far behind in the scheme of things. Leaving them behind would only hinder our goal of achieving a world of equal opportunity; safety and well-being of women and girls.

 

 

Examples of what I mean
1) A few months ago(May 2017) there was a joint cry raised against boys from a secondary school in Lagos who after finishing their final exams decided that the best way to celebrate was to physically/sexually assault the girls. They were practically tearing the skits and gowns of their fellow school girls with razor blades and had sport attempting to force themselves on these girls. Thanks to one brave woman who stood and raised alarm to save some of these girls. It was a very disturbing and mind boggling story for me.

My question is this: What are we teaching our sons? Are we teaching them to value girls and respect them? Are we teaching them that a real man protects and not hurt or harm? Catch them young is the solution here.

2) In my office these days we seem to have more women in employment more than men. It is so funny sometimes when deciding for dual presentation programs where we need a male and a female, we meet a wall. There are not enough men to go round….hahaha. Then we start asking “where are all the men?” It looks like more women are determined to get an education and succeed. Now, this is a good thing going by the past and even presently in some communities and homes where girls are still prevented from getting an education. Trends of women gainfully employed have evolved over time.More women are likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29 according to U.S department of labor blog.  More women have become providers in the home although the matter of equal payment still varies from country to country. In Nigeria at least I know for a fact that in government organizations men and women earn equal pay as long as they are on the same level e.g L10.

Balance is what I am advocating for here:

While inspiring, empowering and encouraging girls and women let’s not leave our boys and men behind. This is key to gender equality and women’s access to freedom, safety, and progress.

When a father treats his wife well and shows her respect, his son will likely learn from him.

When mothers teach their sons to respect girls and treat them as equals and not inferior then he will know how to treat all the girls and women around him.

Catch them young, teach right values; share the chores in the home; teach him to become a responsible adult and man.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)