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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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)

 

Settling in at the Office after a Break

Hello,
Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read, comment, like or just being invisible but perusing my blog page. Really do appreciate you.😘😘

This week had me settling in and attending to work assignments after my annual vacation.

Vacation?

Ask me how that went? Oh well… A mixed bag of fun with my children and I on a visit to grandpa’s farm; building a tree house etc.

Then I sat down developing an FGMC radio drama serial script. In between, I published some posts on my blog

Then I started to feel bored staying at home and resting… Can you imagine… I should be grateful for the vacation o!

Resumption of Work 

Guess what?  Now that I have resumed work,  I sincerely miss the relaxed schedule and time I had.

Now I am in the middle of working with a team planning for the 2017 world elders day celebration organized by my media organization – the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Ibadan Zonal Station … Looking forward to giving our senior citizens a memorable day come 2nd October. You don’t want to know what this assignment entails… Lots of letter writing, brain storming session, sourcing for funds/sponsorship… Etc. The Theme for International Older Persons Day: “Stepping into the future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions, and participation of older persons in the society”.

Then I am back already co-presenting on a live family show. I so missed my “radio husband”… Together we mirror the stresses of couples/family life and get solutions from our dear audience

That’s not all… I seem to be saddled with producing all the health & fitness programs on my station… So here I am on resumption worrying about scheduling studio recordings for the physiotherapy group in Oyo State and this other gym guy who wants to wake listeners up early in the morning to exercise… 😸🙅😀

Still trying to work with my story writing partner on the way forward with a new drama series… So you see resuming work after a long vacation is not something to look forward to sometimes📚📚📚😀😀

But hey work I must and I am grateful for the gift of work. So please bear with me if I am not able to publish as often. But as soon as I am done settling in I will do more Posts. Well, tomorrow might just find me ready to publish a post! Hahaha.

I will also catch up on reading posts from my blogging friends and community. Missed reading your engaging and fun posts.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Bloggers & Social Media Influencers Workshop: All about Advocating for Zero tolerance for Female Genital mutilation and cutting (FGMC)

There is no medical or biological benefit in cutting the female genitalia. Instead It leaves a scar that brings a lifetime of complications to a woman and her wellbeing.

Cultures that practice FGMC belief it is a tight of passage to womanhood :

A woman is born complete and whole stop the cutting.

Another cultural belief system is the female circumstances prevents a girl/woman from being promiscuous but
It has been found that there are many sex workers who were circumcised.

Cutting a woman’s genital has nothing to do with promiscuity ; this is a matter of personal choice & character.

#SayNotoFGMC

Bloggers & Social Media Influencers workshop organized by Young Men’s Foundation Against Sexual & Gender Based Violence. 

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

12 Factors that makes a Woman Susceptible to Obstetric Fistula, Prevention & Care (Safe Motherhood #2)

Mama sat at the bedside of her daughter looking dejected at the hospital. She prays hard that God will save her daughter from this affliction that left them all in open disgrace and embarrassment. Her daughter had just put to bed but her vagina was leaking with urine. The young lady had sustained an injury during a mismanaged childbirth and was later brought to the hospital. Mama is burdened with caring for her daughter and newborn as the girl’s husband had abandoned them. He couldn’t cope with the mess as he referred to it. Mama believed that somebody had bewitched her daughter but at the hospital, she finds out that there is hope for her daughter. She prays hard that the surgery to the injury will work but also worry about raising enough money to pay for it.
This young lady has what is known as Obstetrics Fistula which occurred during childbirth with unskilled birth attendants: A sad story but hopeful.

The international Fistula awareness day comes up every 23rd May and this year’s theme is tagged: Hope, Healing & Dignity to us All.

Obstetrics Fistula is an abnormal hole in the bladder or rectum as a result of a traumatic birth experience. Urine drains uncontrollably through that hole to the vagina. It can also be termed to mean injury sustained in difficult childbirth or a birth not properly attended to.
Fistula occurs mostly in younger people (under 18 years) not old enough to give birth.

Factors that makes someone susceptible to Obstetrics Fistula:
1. Children below age 18 getting pregnant are a risk as their birth canal is not big enough for a baby. The injury is usually sustained during childbirth.
2.  Labor that is not managed properly especially when there is an obstruction. This is a situation a baby is too big to pass through the birth canal.
3. When a woman presents a breech baby she can sustain an injury during delivery or in the process of trying to assist her.
4.  During the operation of a woman to remove her womb probably because of fibroid mistakes can occur and she sustains an injury.
5.  Unskilled birth attendants in the rural or urban area can put a pregnant woman at risk of Fistula injury.
6. Quacks carrying out a caesarean section can injure the bladder or vagina of a woman.
7. Cancer of the neck of the womb can also erode into the bladder leading to Fistula.
8.  Female Genital Mutilation (Female Circumcision) could cause injury to the bladder. Also, infections may occur in patients not given any antibiotic after FGM. This infection can erode into the bladder and vagina.
9. Women who in an attempt to treat Fibroid or abort through herbal means take caustic materials are at risk of sustaining an injury in their vagina and bladder leading to Fistula.
10.  In some cultural or family practices where women are not allowed to go to the hospital to give birth but instead are required to give birth at home with spiritual chants, when there is an obstruction such women are at risk of Fistula injury.
11.  Lack of funds/poverty prevents people from going to safe hospitals to give birth. Stillbirth may occur and in an attempt to deliver the mother of the baby an injury can occur.
12. In remote villages/places distance to the hospital denies women access to proper care and therefore are exposed to quacks to monitor their labor. This is dangerous.

Prevention of Fistula:
Integration of family planning to reduce the number of abortion by quacks helps to reduce fistula cases.
Training and updating midwives to be able to detect when there is going to be a problem with a pregnant woman’s delivery. Such women are referred on time to a hospital equipped to care for them.
Provision of Maternity Health centers in remote areas will enable women to have access to proper maternal care.
Preventing underage marriage
Sex and health education of teenage girls to keep them from engaging the services of quacks to do abortion.
Health education on the importance of pregnant women registering with hospitals for proper care.
Government making maternal care cheaper or even free.

Why Fistula should be eradicated
A leak of urine or faeces through the vagina leaves the woman psychological traumatized and physically incapacitated. She cannot go to work or go about her business for fear of the smell and stigmatization. Therefore she is economically handicapped. This will also affect the income of her family and her wellbeing.
Some women have been abandoned by their husbands because he could not cope with the trouble of his wife wetting the bed and smell. This further affects her well-being and that of the family.

The Good news is that Fistula is repairable. Many do not know that this is possible. Share with a woman with a Fistula today that her case is treatable.
Right now the University Teaching College Hospital and Adeoyo in Ibadan are offering free Fistula treatment. It is from 22nd May – 26th May 2017.

Fistula is Preventable; It is treatable

Apart from the opening story and conclusion, this article was drawn from points on an interview with a team from the Engendered Health (NGO) and members from Ministry of Health in Oyo state on the radio station Premier F.M 93.5 in Ibadan on the 23rd May 2017.


The team includes:
Prof. Oladosu Ojengbede – Chief Surgeon Obstetrics & gynecologist UCH.
Dr. Doyin Bello (Gynaecologist)
Mrs. Olajumoke Adekogba (Rep. Engendered Health – Fistula Care Plus (USAID)
Mrs. Oluwakemi Olawoyin( Rep. Commissioner for Health)

Adebisi Adetunji (C)