Hello, welcome and thank you for joining us on today’s tweet conference, I am Lauryn Dunkwu @_chzy and I’ll be joined today by Raymond Okpani @rayokpani.

The weekly tweet conference has consistently become one of the key strategies that UNICEF is using to create awareness and build capacities towards the abandonment of FGM.

The conversation will last from 5pm to 7pm.

Today, we will be addressing a very important and strategic topic “Addressing Myths and Misconceptions around FGM.”

I will lead the first part of the conversation for 45 minutes and my partner will have 45 minutes also while the last 30 minutes will be for contributions, questions and answers.

Before we begin I’ll like to give a brief introduction to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

FGM/C stands for Female Genital Mutilation is defined as all procedures that involve the total or partial removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. @WHO

FGM is carried out with special knives, scissors, razor blades and pieces of glass and some of the instruments may be reused with being sterilized…

In some areas like the Gambia, finger nails are used to pluck out the clitoris.

In local communities in Africa, the practice is being carried out by elderly women who are usually traditional birth attendant. There are four types of FGM, as described by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and they are as follows;

Type 1 (Clitoridectomy) which the removal of the prepuce with or without excision of part of the clitoris.

Type 2 (Excision) is the removal of the clitoris with partial or total removal of the labia minora

Type 3 (Infibulation) is the removal of part of the external genitalia, stitching and narrowing of the vaginal orifice for urination and menstrual flow.

Type 4 (Unclassified) refers to all other harmful procedures to the female genital for non-medical reasons and this could include pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. It also includes introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina for the purpose of tightening or narrowing it.

FGM is deeply rooted in culture, has no health benefits, violates the human rights of women and girls and also has short term and long term on their health and well-being. Short term effects include; excessive bleeding, bruises, trauma, sepsis, fractures and so much more. Long term effect include; psychological trauma, keloid scar formation, painful intercourse, vaginal fistula, asphyxia at child birth, obstructive labour etc.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) over 200 million women have been subjected to FGM/C worldwide. In some communities FGM is celebrated as a rite of passage for from childhood to womanhood, mostly among teenagers.

According to UNWomen’s 2015 Report, girls aged under 14 are almost 25% of the victims worldwide.

In most cases, the girls are infants, toddlers or preteens who do not understand the procedure, know when it’s about to happen or can even consent to it.

If you need more information about FGM, please visit our website www.endcuttinggirls.org

At this point, let me welcome my colleague @rayokpani to enlighten us on the remaining part of the conference.

FGM is recognized internationally as a grave violation of the human rights of girls and women.

FGM has no health benefits, and only brings harm to girls and women.

Dear @_chzy, thank you for the introduction.  Now let’s review some of the myths and misconceptions, in Nigeria, which are false based on research and reports.

A number of myths and misconceptions about FGM continue to spread, be believed and support this harmful practice.

FGM is safer when it is done by a health worker, which has led to medicalization of the practice.

(ii). It has been proven that FGM, when performed by anyone, anywhere, causes harm; which can be physical, psychological and psychological.

(iii). Some cultures and traditional that carry out this practice do so to curb promiscuity, as they believe depriving a female of sexual pleasure would achieve this goal.

(iv) Women who have been survivors of FGM have reported to still experience sexual pleasure, debunking this ridiculous claim.

(v). There would be no long term damage is the procedure is done “correctly”.

Even when FGM is performed by a health workers, complications may arise later in life, especially during child birth.

There are many possible complications that can arise from FGM surgeries, ranging from pain, infection, and excessive bleeding, to death.

Depending on the type of FGM performed, the woman may need to be sliced open when she has to give birth. Damage is also not limited to the physical; low self-esteem and psychological trauma can be seen in survivors.

FGM is a religious obligation for adherents of some major religious groups in Nigeria, Christianity and Islam.

There are no religious scripts, in the Bible or Koran, which supports FGM.  These has been attested to and reaffirmed by many Christian and Islamic leaders

During childbirth, if the head of the baby touches the clitoris that baby will die.

In communities where FGM is not practiced, women have continued to deliver their babies safely because the clitoris does not harm their babies.

During sexual intercourse, if the man’s genital organ touches the clitoris it will be destroyed.

This is false, because the husbands of women that have not undergone FGM continue to be intimate with their partners without any harm.

If the clitoris is not removed, it will continue to grow until it will be as long as a man’s genital organ.

Although the length of the clitoris is not homogenous in all women, but there has not been any recorded case where it grew to the length of the average male genital organ.

FGM makes the female genital organ clean and healthy

IN reality, FGM can create uncleanliness by closing the vulva and preventing the natural flow of urine and menstrual blood, leading to the retention of urine and menstrual blood.

FGM makes the female genital organ look more beautiful. Unfortunately, the removal or damage of healthy organs and tissues prevents them functioning properly thereby leading to complication for the FGM survivor.

There are other myths and misconceptions across the communities where FGM is practiced in Nigeria, but the ones listed above are the most common ones.

For more facts and figures about FGM kindly visit our website at www.endcuttinggirls.org or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, twitter and YouTube @endcuttinggirls,

You can also join us for our weekly twitter conference by 5pm every Thursday.

Thank you and let me now hand over to @lady_purity5 to continue the conversation.