By Akinyele Sokoya
She was downcast, lost and in total despair as she looked into the future with little or no optimism. This was the condition and status Mrs Silifat Atanda (Not real name) has found herself over the demand of her husband’s family to submit her daughter for genital mutilation.
Silifat in her late 30s couldn’t bring herself to term with the incessant threat she receives from her hubby’s family immediately her little girl attained the age of 10. The family has made it clear to her that they would take it to any length to make her suffer and even her girl would not be spared because they would make her future very terrible.
Recounting her ordeal to our reporter, she said, “It has not been easy convincing my husband’s family why my child would not go through their barbaric ways of life. They planned to subject her to torture and severe pains by circumcision and my being adamant did make them threatened to make life a hell for me and my little girl.”
Married to an Ekiti man; a state according to UNICEF is among the five states in Nigeria with high rates of FGM/C. The states are Osun, Ebonyi and Ekiti leading at 77, 74 and 72 per cent respectively. Despite the fact that some states have passed it into law, it is still a daunting task fighting FGM/C in the Southwest, especially in Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and some other states in Nigeria.
Despite international outcries against the cultural practice coupled with the mass campaign and awareness against genital mutilation amongst female children, people in a small town in Ekiti still find pleasure in female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C), thus making it poses a huge challenge in the area.
In her story, the mother of two said, “Women in the area find it difficult to stand in defence for their girl-child. They threatened to kill whoever intends putting a stop to the barbaric act and even make the future of the girl bleak if her parent refuses following the norms of the area as regards genital mutilation. This evil act they called culture comes with a big celebration with the slaughtering of the animal, it could be goat, ram or chicken with lots of drinks. They see it as an act of worship without considering the pains and gruesome experience they made people go through.”
My husband relatives have been on my neck making me see reasons why the culture in the family must not cease to exist and my fear is I don’t want my girl to experience such activities that could cause infertility, maternal death, infections and loss of sexual pleasure in future. She posited.
Silifat said the reason given by the family is that a partial or total cutting of the female genitalia will dissuade acts of promiscuity. Also their belief of many centuries ago must continue to exist because its stoppage will bring doom to the family.
However, research has shown that the mutilation of the female genitalia does not affect sexual behaviours positively, while cultural belief on female mutilation is nothing but a ruse and another evil way to inflict a wound and untold hardship on an innocent girl.
Recent happenings in the country show that the African child, especially the girl-child, is still subjected to some out-dated practices and traditions that threaten their right to development, protection and ultimately survival.
This is an unbridled contravention of the international Child Rights Act adopted by Nigeria in 2003 to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the child.
In her cry to save her child and every Nigerian girl out there from the barbaric act, she has called on the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari and other well-meaning Nigerians to checkmate the act in the area and other states that the act is prevalent in Nigeria.