FGM Monthly Article – November 2021

Ekiti Empowers 180 Female Genital Circumcisers with N42.5m This DayBy Victor Ogunje As part of the ways to keep female children safe and sound, the Government of Ekiti State (Nigeria), has empowered 180 repentant practitioners of female circumcision with N42.5 million, which was targeted at discouraging Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the state. The beneficiaries of the grants publicly handed over their trade tools to the First Lady, Ekiti State, at the ‘Drop the Blade Initiative,’ which took place in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday. Addressing the beneficiaries on Saturday, the first lady said that the grant was to discourage the former practitioners from returning to the harmful practice having denounced the trade. She reiterated the state government’s zero tolerance for gender-based violence and female genital mutilation. She said the government would not hesitate to clamp down on people who still practiced the trade that is seen as violence against girls. She said a minimum N250,000 grant given each of the former practitioners was a start-up capital for them to start a profitable business venture that would not be harmful to the society. The first lady charged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the money. She said: “This would be the second time government would empower former female circumcision practitioners in the state as part of efforts to discourage the dastardly act. “We are empowering these women today to take them away from the illegal business. If what they were gaining from female circumcision was why they could not let go of the job, we are ready to empower them.” Earlier in her welcome address, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Ms. Maryam Ogunlade, reaffirmed the Government’s zero-tolerance for female genital mutilation and called for stakeholder’s involvement in stamping it out in all communities across the state. Ogunlade reminded the people of an existing law banning female circumcision in Ekiti State, adding that anyone caught would face legal action. Speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health and Human Services, Mr Akinjide Akinleye, expressed displeasure that Ekiti State has the highest prevalence of FGM in southern Nigeria. Akinyele urged the people to complement the synergy of the first lady’s office to eradicate FGM practice in the state by not going back to the renounced unlawful act. Also, the Director-General of Ekiti State Micro Finance and Enterprise Development Agency, Mr. Kayode Fasae, advised the beneficiaries against...

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Taking Personal Responsibility

Form 2 students at Kimuka School learning about taking personal responsibility. Accepting responsibility and accountability for our actions, is the topic we covered with students at Kimuka School this week. Being in boarding school comes with its own unique challenges. Adolescence can be a difficult stage for any teenager; there is quite a lot the students struggle to cope with and try to comprehend. Teachers will tell you they go through a lot handling students who are in Forms 1 and 2. The ages between 13-16 is the self-discovery stage. The young girls at this season of their life are trying hard to discover who they are in the world; the majority have self-esteem issues and get easily frustrated. Blaming their peers, teachers, and parents becomes the most common scenarios. They do not generally want to take responsibility for their actions since blaming others comes easier. During our talks regarding personal responsibility, we encouraged the girls to look inward and realize that change, of whatever kind, begins with them. Complaining about every little thing does not help, finding solutions within and owning up is the best way out of problem situations. It is simple to blame others for our mistakes, and it takes an introspective and disciplined student to take responsibility for their own actions. Life will always be full of challenges; how we respond to those challenges, however, determines how we will live our lives. If we let people tell us what we can and cannot do, we limit our abilities and give them too much power over us. One must take control of their own life and face challenges head on; we cannot give up just because we feel defeated. Taking control of one’s thoughts, words and actions will result in a far better life. There is a lot of peer pressure at school; choosing to be different and walking a different path, when all others are in a self-destruction mode, is both a brave and intelligent choice. We have all been given choices in life, and our choices all have consequences. We asked girls who fell pregnant because they engaged in risky behavior, why they felt the need to engage in premarital sex. The majority informed us their friends were participating in sexual activities, which enticed them to try it. That is peer pressure at its worst and having someone to blame seems the easiest way...

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FGM Monthly Article – October 2021

Abuse of the Girl Child The Sun Voice of the Nation21st October 2021 Editorial The story of the girl child in Nigeria is not cheery. On the occasion of this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, these issues, once again, were on the front burner. If she is not married off early, she may be denied the opportunity to go to school. If she is not subjected to child labor, she may become a victim of incest and rape. Stories of fathers defiling their daughters or housemaids abound in different parts of the country. In most cases, when such people are caught, the excuse has often been, “I was tempted by the devil.” When a retired army captain was caught defiling his four-year-old niece in Calabar, Cross River State, last year, he claimed that he was under the influence of alcohol. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that one in five girls has experienced sexual violence globally. Female children suffer other forms of violence and indignity in Nigeria. Last year, it was reported that a 10-year-old girl, Nneoma Nnadi, suffered serious abuse in the hands of her guardians in Enugu. The couple reportedly burnt Nneoma’s belly, back and buttocks with hot electric iron, drilled six-inch nail into her head, and inserted red hot pepper into her private part. They also allegedly locked her up in the toilet. Nneoma was rushed to the hospital for treatment as the story drew outrage among Nigerians. In some cultures, female genital mutilation, otherwise called female circumcision, is still prevalent. This is worsened by early marriage which some girls are subjected to. The World Health Organisation says that 12 million girls are married before age 18 each year.  A new report by Save the Children International reveals that 44 per cent of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday. This is said to be one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world and it is largely fuelled by gender inequality. The report indicated that child marriage kills over 60 girls daily worldwide.  Many of those who survive it suffer mental and physical torture in their matrimonial homes. And because they are not yet fully mature for childbearing, many of them suffer Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in addition. This is particularly prevalent in northern Nigeria.  Unfortunately, girls are the worst victims of child labor. Rather than go to school, some of them...

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International Day Of The Girl Child

The girl child was celebrated globally on the 11th of October 2021. The international day of the girl child was declared by the United Nations to amplify the voices of young girls around the world and increase awareness of issues faced by young females. Women and girls represent half of the world’s population, and it is crucial to accelerate their development through both awareness and action. There is need to empower young girls and women by providing them with proper healthcare, skill-based learning facilities, equal opportunities, and a world free from gender-based violence and discrimination. As we celebrated this day, our thoughts were on the many challenges women face. We based our talks at the Choice Club this week on gender-based violence. Gender based violence refers to harmful acts directed at an individual due to their gender. Such violence is rooted in gender inequality through an abuse of power, and harmful norms. Gender based violence (GBV) is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue. Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic, or national boundaries. This past week we had an unfortunate incidence occur in the city when two ladies were attacked in a high-profile hotel by twin brothers. The incidence was aired all over the media and it caused quite an uproar. Women came out and spoke strongly against the incidence. The twin brothers are being interrogated by the police, and we can just hope that justice will prevail. The chances of the brothers bribing their way out is very high, but people are alert, watching, and listening.. Kenya has had quite a number of gender-based violence acts taken against women, such as the incident, below. Kenya is known the word over for its prowess in athletics. Whenever there is an international marathon, and Kenya is represented, victory for the country is always almost guaranteed. Most of these runners come from very humble backgrounds. Jokes have been told about how the athletes are ‘swift on their feet, but not so much with their tongues.’ These athletes have a hard time answering questions when interviewed by the international press. Most can barely speak English, and it is almost heart-breaking to see them struggling to answer questions after a race. This does not discourage them, however; they are giants on...

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Where There Is A Will

By Grace Wandia~    Sandra Kemer is one of among eleven girls who went through the Helen Valverde Scholarship Program through Valvisions Foundation. Sandra, for some reason, grew on me after I met her the first time. I remember Sandra being timid and very skinny. She was always quiet but also very observant. She barely said much; she had a sadness about her. When the rest of the girls would be jumping up and down and chatting away, Sandra kept a safe distance and just watched. I was always curious to find out what was going on in her mind. Because of the circumstances the eleven girls had come through, it was hard to tell what had happened to each one of them. They had all come from a rescue Centre because they were at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). They had run to the rescue Centre or had been taken there by the authorities for their safety. The eleven girls all received scholarships to join secondary school sponsored by Valvisions Foundation through the scholarship fund. It was hard for them to adjust at school. They had all come from a village set up, and they did not know much about town life. They had never seen a proper toilet. In Pokot, where they came from, pit latrines were used and those were for the fortunate few. The rest just helped themselves by going into the brush. Taking a bath was a rare occurrence too. Bathing took place at the river when the girls took their animals to drink or when they went to fetch drinking water. The watering wells were separate for the men and women. A group of women would be at one point fetching water, below them would be another group of women and young girls bathing, and below them the animals would be drinking. It was, therefore, very confusing for the girls when they arrived at school and found showers, toilets that one could sit on, and other facilities they had not seen or used before. I remember them all laughing and huddling together in a corner to discuss the facilities and wondering if they would be able to use them. As the other girls excitedly discussed the facilities, Sandra just watched with no emotion on her face. As time went by, I slowly managed to crack the shell that Sandra had been hiding...

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