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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NET MAPPING OF ADOLESCENT & YOUTH FAMILY PLANNING SITUATION IN OYO STATE (15-24years)

As a parent would you subscribe to sitting and talking with your adolescent or young son or daughter about his or her contraceptive options? This question came up while in a meeting organized by the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Initiative (NURHI) to do a Net Mapping of Adolescent and youth (15-24years) family planning situation in Oyo State.

Hmmmn…it is one thing to have sexuality/sexual education talks with your growing child but another to actually now give him or her the option that seems to encourage engaging in sex. Being a mother I would want my children to abstain from sex until they are in a committed relationship (Marriage). My church mind believes in celibacy/chastity until marriage. And since I was successful at waiting until I tied the knot with the love of my life and😍 I would love to encourage my children to do same. Why would I want them to take the option of abstinence? Having sex means taking responsibility for the emotional complications and other things that could come up such as sexually transmitted diseases; becoming a young mother or father as a result of unplanned pregnancy and having to hold on from achieving their dreams should this happen.

However, the world is more complex than our own growing up years. Children are exposed to all kinds of sexual choices. As tough as it might seem, if a child becomes actively involved in sex in spite of all the abstinence preaching then it might be wise as a parent to educate your son/daughter about contraceptive options that will enable them to protect themselves against some of the consequences such as unplanned pregnancies and Swiss. As for the emotional issues that can occur, I don’t have a solution to for now.

When it comes to unplanned pregnancy many teenage girls and adolescent are at the receiving end. Young people are often experimental and therefore engage in sexual activities. Often when a girl has a baby growing in her womb she is still in school with her future still ahead of her. The baby becomes a threat to her achieving her dreams and goals and soon she and the father of the baby if he even accepts responsibility for the pregnancy decide to get rid of the baby through abortion.

There are alarming unsafe methods of aborting a pregnancy. Some girls use over- the – counter drugs, others swallow poisonous and corrosive substances that end up destroying their internal organs and leading to death sometimes. According to a research report published in the Guttmacher Institute Journal titled The Incidence of  Abortion in Nigeria is estimated at 1.2million induced abortions as at 2012 amongst females ages 15 – 49. That is just too many!

We may need to change our stereotype minds and educate young people about their contraceptives options while also preaching abstinence and its benefits. This will help our adolescents to make informed choices and hopefully, they will make the right choices that will not hurt them and their future.

Amongst Facilitators were:
Stella Akinso – State Team Lead NURHI, Oyo State
Mallam Kabir Abdullahi – State Team Lead NURHI, Kaduna State
Barr. Oris Ikkideh

Adebisi Adetunji (C)
BusyBee Media for Social Change & Development
Phone: +(234)-07083403146, E-mail – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com.

How Many Men In Africa will Go for Vasectomy a Family Planning method? Would you Support your man? Would you as a Man go for it? #WORLD VASECTOMY DAY

Men on a morning jog on a Saturday

Vasectomy, now this sounds like a big word that people often wonder what it means? It is simply a male permanent contraceptive. Usually, a minor surgical procedure is carried out which prevents sperms that can fertilize a female’s egg from getting across during sexual intercourse in simple terms. It is a contraceptive method used by couples who do not want to have any more children.

This is one family planning method that men are afraid of taking up especially in our African setting. This is because they are afraid that it might affect their libido and ability to enjoy sex with their spouses/partners. Even my fellow women clan refuse to support their men in taking this option 😀😀. Rest easy performing a vasectomy does no harm to a man’s libido or sexual performance. Many men worry about the risks involved in doing a vasectomy so learn more about it to make an informed choice.

Vasectomy is simply a shared responsibility in a couple’s family planning efforts know more about your contraceptive options as a couple.

Back to my question would you be willing to try the option of Vasectomy? Share your thoughts.

Adebisi Adetunji(C)
BusyBee Media for Social Change & Development

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)

 

Maternal & Child Health : Best Female Journalist (NAWOJ), 2017

Yippee…  at the just concluded Nigeria Association of Women Journalists(NAWOJ)  Press week events,  Stella Oyebanji emerged as the Best Female Journalist in Oyo State, on the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health reporting Competition.

Stella is part of my team on the Abiye (maternal & child health) radio education project. We are so proud of her. Kudos girl, keep flying high!!

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

 

 

Maternal & Child Health : Two Mothers Who Wouldn’t Register for Antenatal Care/Vaccinate Their Children

Once while at Ankor Market in Eruwa, Oyo State with a team on community interaction with mothers about registering for antenatal and immunizing their babies, we came across a few women that surprised us.

One of the women was a young pregnant mother selling stuff in the market. We asked whether she had registered at the hospital for antenatal care and she said she didn’t have the time yet. She travels to the farm to bring goods to sell in the market and was just too busy. It was a thing of concern to my Abiye team(maternal and child health media education team) and I. So here we were in the middle of the market with all the ambiance of bargaining going on attempting to convince this woman to register herself and unborn child at the antenatal clinic. We did our best to educate her on the importance of antenatal care to having a healthy baby and safe delivery.

Moving further down in the market we met a nursing mother with her baby strapped to her back. She was there to buy some foodstuff. In our chat with her, we tried to find out if she had been taking her baby for his immunization doses. This mother responded that she didn’t believe in immunizing her children. To her, it was not necessary and she even feared that it might be harmful to her baby. We were flabbergasted at her “ignorance”. My thought was… “Do people still think like this at this age”? We soon found out that there were others like her in that same market and community.

Again we engaged her in a dialogue to educate her about the importance of immunizing her children to their wellbeing. I enlightened her about the fact that vaccines protect children from childhood diseases that could be fatal. This woman was busy smiling and shaking her head, it didn’t look like she would take our advice and there wasn’t much we could do about it.

Many others like these women whose stories I just Shared really need to be better educated.

It is easy to think that with all the campaign to create awareness about the safety net of immunizing babies and children,  people would take it seriously. Unfortunately, there are still those who have a bias and are not properly informed. Community education is still very important and must continue.

As we mark another world Polio day today 24th October 2017, encourage every mother in your community to go immunize their babies to protect their lives and future. Polio is a crippling disease that is iireversible but can be prevented through immunization.

Encourage expectant mothers to also register for antenatal care where they are likely to have proper education about immunization services for their babies.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)