Progress Made in The Abandonment of FGM in Nigeria

FACTS ABOUT FGM

Female genital mutilation refers to all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organ for non-medical reasons. Effects of female genital mutilation also known as female circumcisions are enormous and have long term physical, emotional, psychological effects on women and girls. These include bleeding, shock, infections, leakage of urine/feces (VVF), genital tissue swelling, birth complications, emotional trauma, sexual health issues, problems with their partners/spouses and death.

About 200 million women and girls worldwide are living with the effects of female genital mutilation according to
Female genital mutilation violates the rights of women and girls. It is a form of gender-based violence.

6 states have a high prevalence of female genital mutilation in Nigeria: Imo, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Ebonyi, and Edo States.

 

PUBLIC DECLARATION BY COMMUNITIES TO ELIMINATE FGM

Members of the Oyo Messi Elders Council at the Oyo state public declaration to Abandon FGM

Izzi Clan, Ebonyi State

At Izzi community, a young girl in the company of two other girls fled from home one night as they were about to go through the initiation rite to womanhood which included female genital mutilation. Their brave attempt to escape led to the intervention of the child protection network, UNICEF, Ministry of women affairs and this started the process of engaging the custodians of culture in Izzi community in a sensitization effort. On the 16th of June 2017, 26 communities in Izzi clan and three other LGA (Abakaliki, Ebonyi, and Izzi) made a public declaration on the abandonment of female genital mutilation. The declaration was signed by the traditional ruler’s forum and custodians of the Izzi culture and royal fathers.

Imo State

On the 23rd of November, 2018 the several sensitization and education of many communities by UNICEF, NOA and other partners culminated into the public declaration of 28 communities in Ngor-Okpala Local government to abandon Female Genital Mutilation. At the event were the State Director NOA, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, UNICEF Consultant on FGM for Ebonyi and Imo, Mr. Benjamin Mbakwem, traditional rulers, groups of women, men and the youths representing the various communities.

Oyo State

One of the traditional practices upheld by some parts of the Yoruba land is the act of female genital mutilation also known as female circumcision. On the 20th of December 94 communities in Oyo from Oorelope 49, Kajola 24, and Oyo West 21(LGAs) made a public declaration to abandon the practice of FGM.
After several community engagements with community members and public enlightenment with various stakeholders( artisans, youth, men and women’s groups, traditional and religious leaders) communities in Oorelope, Kajola, and Oyo West made the decision to henceforth protect the future of girls and women by putting an end to FGM.

The public declaration of these communities took place at the palace of His Royal Majesty Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III. The Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) Oyo state, Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu; representatives of UNICEF , Dr. Olasunmbo Odebode, Child Protection Specialist for UNICEF and Mrs Olutayo Aderonke , the UNICEF Consultant for FGM in Ekiti, Oyo and Osun explains and High chiefs of Oyo Messi were all present at the public declaration to eliminate FGM.

Benefits of public declaration: Endcuttinggirls website

Osun State

Similarly, 38 communities in Osun state held an event in 2018 where community members and stakeholders signed an undertaking to eliminate the harmful cultural practice of FGM. Osun state has the highest prevalence of FGM practice in southwest Nigeria. In the words of the UNICEF consultant on FGM for Osun, Oyo and Ekiti, Mrs. Aderonke Olutayo, “the event rewrites history and marks a new chapter for the next generation of girls and women in these communities”. The state director NOA, Osun, Mrs. Yomi Olasinde and other partners were present at this historic event.

Edo State

In January 2019, Edo State passed the Violence Against Persons Bill into Law. This law makes provision for perpetrators of Female Genital Mutilation to be sentenced to “life imprisonment”, without a fine in the state.

Media campaign on Radio, TV and social media have greatly contributed to increased awareness about the long term effect of FGM on women and girls. There are ongoing education and sensitization among school students. This is to equip the young generation with the necessary information so that they can be empowered to say NO and also prevent their own children from being cut in the future.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Broadcast Journalist, Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Rape Survivor – “You can Heal”.

At the TeensHubs seminar for adolescents which held recently in Ibadan, while waiting for my turn to speak to participants about the harmful effects and need to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM ), I listened to this heartbreaking yet happy ending story of a young lady who had volunteered for the event. Oluwafunmbi Adeoti was born in Kwara state.

Funmbi – Rape Survivor & Me after sharing her story with Adolescents at the seminar

While growing up she wanted to be loved and therefore sort for acceptance wherever she could find it. Unfortunately she fell into the wrong hands and got pregnant at age 16 after been raped. Not wanting her parents to find out Funmbi ran away from home and soon met her former physics teacher who was then lecturing at a University.

Desperately looking for answers and a way out of her predicament she shared her dilemma with this physics teacher. Instead of helping, he added salt to her injury by encouraging her to opt for abortion. Things took a worse turn as this man lied to her that abortion was a very painful procedure and in order to minimize her pain he had to sleep with her. Poor Funmbi, was taken advantage of by another adult who should have protected her. Eventually she did have the abortion but kept the pain to herself for eight years.

Somewhere down the road while still hurting Funmbi met people who drew her out and the first time she spoke about what she had gone through, she wept profusely. However it was the beginning of her healing journey.

Funmbi had to learn that it was not her fault that these rape incidences happened and had to learn forgiveness. It was tough but at some point Funmbi came to a decision; that “the remaining part of her life was going to become the best”. Now she boldly speaks about her experience and has this to say to other survivors –

Whatever you have gone through, you can heal”.

There are many rape survivors out there like Funmbi, who need to get a chance to heal. Reach out to someone today, you never can tell what that innocent looking face might be going through.

If you are a survivor please reach out; do not continue to suffer on in silence battling the monsters of the trauma of your experience.

Break the Culture of Silence; Speak Up! 

And parents please pay attention to your children. Initiate conversations about their sexuality and reproductive health early on in life. Befriend them and educate them about situations and people who could take advantage of them.

Statistics

42.2% females were raped before age 18 (C DC – Center for Disease Control).

29% of Male were raped before age 10.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

 

Step Out of Your Title ; Surprise yourself and Others

Me & Dolapo Dosunmu

Meeting this dear woman, Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu at a development work review meeting left me feeling good and humble. She made us feel relaxed and generated so much laughter with her sense of humor. You wouldn’t guess her title, I mean her role in the office.

She was so down to earth as the moderator of the 2-Day Review Meeting with UNICEF and 10 States Media Partners that produced the Radio Drama Serial, “Pim pim pim”. It was an enter – educate format to generate social behavior change in attitudes of people and communities towards female genital mutilation FGM also known as female circumcision.

I and a participant were saddled with the responsibility of reporting all activities and discussion of the first day of the meeting. While crossing our “Ts’ and doting our “l’, we asked her to give us her designation in order to properly capture the correct information needed to conclude the report. Here was this woman telling me that she is the,”State Director of National Orientation Agency, Oyo”! I stood there thinking, “wow, so a state director has been the moderator”. Dosunmu was the errand girl if you like, because she was there to ensure that the meeting ran smoothly. She mingled easily and was humble about how she addressed everyone.

My take away and lesson:
*Step out of your title and make a simple difference.
*Wear your badge and title with humility.
* Mingle and keep people guessing about who you truly are😀. No need to blow your own trumpet, let others do it.

Women, we need to support each other more. Appreciate your sister, no need for the competition and unhealthy rivalry – paraphrasing a point from Dolapo Dosunmu

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

 

My Journey into Story Writing & #RadioDramaSoap Production

I am an advocate of using storytelling to inspire social change and development. Allow me to blow my trumpet a little here 😊

My journey into story writing began as a child. I enjoyed reading story books and I read so many while growing up. Often I would rush to carry out house chores assigned to me then lay crouched on the soafer to dig into whatever story book/novel I had to read.

Some of the Books I read… Did you also read any of these :

*All Shakespeare series – “Macbeth” , “As you Like it” etc
* Pacesetters Series
*Mark 4 Series – Bible story book for children Volume 1-10
* A few Mills and Boons
* Crime stories from James Hardly Chase
* Of course the cartoon series on fairy tales : Cinderella, Rapuzel, Snow white and more 😄
* Inspirational Christian stories

My father couldn’t keep up with buying me new books because I quickly finished each book he got and begged him to get another 😀

As a voracious reader I started to tell my own stories through writing and here I am today still writing.

My journey into Radio Drama Writing & Production:

After I started working in the media (Radio Nigeria) I took interest in the radio drama production. The producer, Abiodun Ogidan who later became my mentor made the recording sessions in the studio very interesting. Often I will join the cast crew in the recording studio not as an actor but just to watch. I call it humor time. 😀 We always had a lot to laugh and giggle about as the characters took their lines – a lot of jokes flowed through as we pause to correct mistakes.

On one of my annual leave while at home with so much free time on my hands, I became inspired to try my hands on writing a radio drama script. Not knowing where to start I picked up my first-degree thesis which was a creative work and developed it. The title is, “We Can Begin Again”. I took my 13 episodes scripts to my mentor and she edited and encouraged me to record it. And that was how my journey into writing and producing radio drama soap began.

Today I have written and produced over 400 episodes of radio drama soap aimed at behavioral and social change. Some of my productions include :

Giggles – A 5minutes series on the message of rebranding Nigerians, promoting integrity, hard work, environmental sanitation & more – over a 100 episodes

Abiye – 15-minute drama soap on maternal d child health – Over 200 episodes

Hilly Willy Hospital – 15minutes promoting healthy living – 27 episodes

Greater Tomorrow – Climate change laced with the issue of poverty and girl child education and discouraged child marriage – 26 episodes.

The Long Wait – struggle with infertility and how couples can cope.

Some of my stories have been broadcast on the network service which broadcasts to all parts of the country. These include – “Flower in the Mud” (child trafficking)
“The Last Assault ” (Gender-based Violence)
” Ufiala ” – (community fight against Rape) written by Tokunbo Dada & produced by me

I am excited about the current drama soap, ” Twists and Turns”, been broadcast already on the airwaves(Premier FM 93.5). It was inspired by the need to take a closer look at the long-term effects of female genital mutilation and cutting on women and girls. It is a 28 episode storyline. “Twists and Turns”, is co-written by me and Tokunbo Dada. Produced by yours sincerely, it’s been a lot of fun and hard work working with my cast and crew.

FInd your passion and follow It; you never know where it would take you.

I have been privileged as a result of my flair for storytelling and radio drama writing /production to get a scholarship with the Radio Netherlands(RNTC) on a training in “Soaps & Society” which took me out of the country for three months. And I can’t begin to tell you about all other opportunities that have come my way. These opportunities have given me international exposure and I have met some amazing people.

Doing what you love and know to do opens doors of opportunities.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) 
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

GUEST POST: MY FGM STORY by Omoye Oriaghan

This piece was sent to me a few days ago to share and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is a personal experience of Omoye Oriaghan. Great insights to her fears about Female Circumcision and her journey into discovering whether she had been cut or not. I was held spelt bound and couldn’t stop until I came to the end of this story. Enjoy it and feel free to share with others.

“How do you feel, if I cut that sensitive nub above your privates
Cut the lips to your womanly haven
And then stitch close the opening to leave only a urinary passageway
I do not stop there,
But when you get married, I tear you back open for sexual relations with your husband (as in some cases)
Can you imagine how you would feel?
Well, that is the gore of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Tolarnee

I have always heard of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), its ills and the various calls for an end to its practice in our society. Before my final year at the university, I knew little or nothing about this awful practice, maybe because I was too lazy to google its meaning and prevalence in Nigeria and Africa as a whole or maybe because I just wasn’t interested in knowing what it meant. However, during my last days at school, we had this course taught by the only professor in our department at the time, Prof Akinfeleye, on campaign messages and design (I can’t remember the exact course title now).

As part of assessments for the course, the class was divided into different groups, given different health challenges and asked to design campaign messages for them. This was to be presented in subsequent classes. I remember a particular group was to design campaign messages for FGM. As against other presentations that I didn’t accord much interest, this campaign against FGM caught my attention, maybe because the medical practitioner took his time to explain with a slide presentation its prevalence in some parts of Nigeria. The gory pictures of the different types of cuts and the girls (children) made to undergo such, aroused so much anger within that later gave birth to the hatred I now nurse for it.

Also in my final year on campus, I had a friend who when we had a discussion on FGM told me in confidence that she and her sisters were mutilated after birth by their mother. However, what was more shocking in her revelation was that her mother told her while she much older not to let her would-be husband know she had been circumcised so as not to ‘drive him away’. According to her mum, no man or most men do not love the idea of marrying a ‘circumcised’ woman because of the lack of satisfaction during sex.
I must confess that while listening to her revelation I got a bit scared because I wasn’t sure of my own status. Who knows, I may have been circumcised too! However, the fears subsided…….

I met Tunde (real name withheld) and we got really close and someday I hoped I would settle down with him (didn’t happen though *winks*) and into our relationship the talk of circumcision (FGM) came up and the fears came back in full force. I was not ready to drive my man away, or so I thought. I think it’s time I had a tete-a-tete with my mother, I concluded, but somehow I didn’t know how to bring up the conversation because my mum and I never really had such conversations. And so again, I managed to keep it in until…….

I sat comfortably as my hair stylist braided my hair one fateful day when a woman from the next shop walked in to loosen her own braids and then ‘the conversation’ began. My hair stylist (Woman A) started the conversation:

“This circumcision thing, everyone seems to be talking about it like it’s a bad thing o she said
The woman from the next shop (Woman B) replied,
“Yes o….In the olden days it was not a big deal but these days, women are discouraged from circumcising their girl-child………My mother says my sisters and I were circumcised, however, she warned us not to tell our husbands (here’s the warning again), so they don’t leave us and sleep with other women”
Woman A: “Hmmmm”
Woman B continues
“When I have sex with my husband, I pretend sometimes to enjoy it even when I don’t, so I don’t push him away………Well, my mum warned me not to circumcise my daughter so she doesn’t go through the same problem and so I didn’t circumcise her”

Now, while this conversation ensued, I was paying rapt attention, picking every detail, and of course, they didn’t know I listened. They thought I didn’t understand what they were saying because they were not having the conversation in English.
And so the conversation continued,
Woman A: “Well for me, my mother circumcised all of her female children o and me, I circumcise all of mine ( now, Woman A has three daughters)…….Not long after I give birth to my girls, I always tell my husband that I want to go and visit my mother in the village (She was Igbo and her husband Yoruba) and when I get there I circumcise them without his knowledge”
“It is good to circumcise girls so they will not become wayward” she continued “I will continue to circumcise my female children o”.
That ended the conversation and also ended my delay in asking my mum the big question.

I got home that evening and immediately put a call through to my mother, “Hello Mama, this circumcision thing, do they do it in our village?” I questioned curiously. “Well they did it a long time ago, but your grandmother did not circumcise me or my other siblings” She replied. That was all I needed to hear to have a beautiful sleep that night {smiles).

Last year, I was also privileged to watch an edition of BBC’s HardTalk with Stephen Sackur on FGM. On the show that day, Stephen had two African women with British citizenship. One was for and the other against FGM. Now, I was more particular about the lady who supported the practice because I wanted to know why anyone would support such a barbaric practice. However, after listening to her point of view, I didn’t entirely condemn her.

The lady (from Ivory Coast, if I remember correctly) explained that female circumcision was a huge ceremony in her village for women who had come of age, girls who were 18 years and above. It was a Coming out Ceremony of some sort. She further explained that she was convinced at the age of about 20 years by her aunt who had a paid a visit to her family in the UK to participate in the ceremony. Her aunt and mother told her a little about the pain associated with the procedure and some of the health risks. With this knowledge, she agreed to travel to Ivory Coast to be circumcised. She concluded by saying the procedure, though painful, was healthy and that years after it she had enjoyed sexual relations with her partner.

So for her, FGM should only be carried out on girls who are well aware of the health risks and others risks and should also be done on their consent. However, she was against the complex stages of mutilation.

As my story winds up, let me conclude by saying, I am against FGM practiced on a girl-child who has absolutely no idea what is being done to her. If when she is well of age weighs all the risk factors involved and still decides to be mutilated, then I bid her Godspeed, but again, I don’t think any girl would love to go through such pain from a very unhealthy procedure for whatever gain.
As I drop my pen, or this time, my keyboard (winks), let me say #IStandAgainstFGM and #FGMMustBeStopped #EndFGMNow

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Project Director Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development.
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

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 

People, Places and Sights From My Travels

Meeting People, making new friends and catching up with old friends and family is the best part of our successes.

Visit to Spar biggest shopping mall in Portharcourt in company of family in-laws
Participants at media review meeting workshop on ending FGMC
Walking to the conference hall for media review meeting on Pim pim pim drama – ending FGMC with a dear friend – Joyce Unegbu
At Spar shopping mall in Portharcourt. Standing beside a television that costs over 2million Naira!! I had to take this photo😀

Places and Sights teach us a lot about the culture and life of others. And most importantly our eyes and minds are more open to the views of others.

A school on mid day break behind my brother in-laws house in Portharcourt. It’s a window zoom in picture 😀
Front view of the Tinapa Lakeside hotel in Cross River, Calabar.
People making jogging and morning exercise a habit in Enugu. I hear it’s the new norm in the state… Really nice.
Former Ebony TV live studios at Tinapa, Calabar
Dinning area at Tinapa hotel
About boarding the aircraft on my way again to another destination. This air line will have to pay for this free advertisement 😀

These are a few of the photos I took while traveling through the eastern part of Nigeria on an assignment.

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