FACEBOOK CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Roles Of Law Enforcement Agencies In Eliminating FGM – Tuesday 29th May, 2018
Our todays topic is; Roles Of Law Enforcement Agencies In Eliminating FGM.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and Female Circumcision.
FGM refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for other non-medical reasons.
FGM is typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade. FGM is conducted from days after birth to puberty and beyond. In half the countries for which national figures are available, most girls are cut before the age of five. Procedures differ according to the country or ethnic group.
The practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women’s sexuality, and ideas about purity, modesty and beauty. It is mostly initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honour, and who fear that failing to have their daughters cut will expose the girls to social exclusion
Health effects depend on the procedure. They can include recurrent infections, difficulty urinating and passing menstrual flow, chronic pain, the development of cysts, an inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth, and fatal bleeding. FGM does not have any known health benefits.
There are four (4) types of female genital mutilation, as classified by the World Health Organisation: Types 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Type 1 is partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce also called Clitoridectomy.
Type 2 is partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora. This is also called excision.
Type 3 is the narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris. This is also called infibulation.
Type 4: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.
FGM violates rights of girls/women, and has immediate and long-term negative effects on their health & general well-being.
FGM is deeply rooted in tradition and persists as a social norm that is upheld by underlying gender structures and power relations.
The act of female genital mutilation (FGM) is considered internationally as a violent act against girls and women, and a violation of their human rights
While FGM is not undertaken with the intention of inflicting harm, its damaging physical, sexual, and psychological effects violates a number of human rights of women and girls
These make it an act of violence against women and girls. This is why many governments in Africa, including Nigeria, and elsewhere have taken steps to eliminate the practice of FGM in their countries.
These steps include laws criminalizing FGM, Education and outreach programs to #endcuttinggirls and the use of civil remedies and administrative regulations to prevent the practice of FGM just to name a few.
Nigeria Bill on Violence Against Persons Prohibition was signed into Law on 28th May 2015. The legislation contains provisions banning various forms of gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation.
Different States also have Laws protecting the woman or Girl Child from FGM.
The law criminalizes “harmful traditional practices,” a term defined broadly to include Female Genital Mutilation.
This includes “all traditional behaviour, attitudes and/or practices, which negatively affect the fundamental rights of girls and women
The Law states that “Any person who performs FGM, engages, incites or abets another person to carry out FGM is on conviction, subject to a punishment of 4 years imprisonment or a fine of NGN200,000”.
It also States that “Any attempt to commit any form of FGM on conviction be liable to a punishment of 2 years imprisonment or a fine NGN100,000
We need to understand that law enforcement agencies alone cannot do the job of stamping out this practice. CSOs and advocates need to create and sustain effective reporting systems that help to provide information to the police and other enforcement institutions.
Often times, survivors, those at risk and witnesses cannot report to the police directly for fear of social backlash. This is why #endcuttinggirls social media handles, and partners like Child Protection Network (CPN), amongst others are available to provide the cloak of anonymity by receiving the information and sharing same with law enforcement.
We have to consistently be reliable on both ends. Law enforcement will take us serious if our information is reliable and devoid of malice. So we must ensure the credibility of the information.
Also, the members of the community must be able to trust the law enforcers to keep their confidentiality, and trust that we will take prompt steps to end cutting girls when aware of a threat.
It is important that Law Enforcement Agencies collaborate with government agencies to provide refuge for girls and women that escape or resist being cut.
It will not be sufficient to just stop a cutting when scheduled. It is more important to ensure the cutting does not take place. Sometime, to do this, the women and girls will need to be taken away from the threatening environment until the air is clear.
Enforcement of the law is another very important tool to ensure abandonment of the practice. Sometimes, it is necessary to wield the big stick for practitioners and their abettors to desist from the practice. Sometimes news of punishment creates great awareness, and inspires compliance.
We can also work with, demand and support the establishment of gender desk at every law enforcement station, be it the Police or Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), amongst others.
Establishment of gender desk alone will not be sufficient, we should also provide technical and training support to designated officers to build their capacity to enforce the law without compromising the safety of the informants, or undermining the cultural sensitivities of the people.
We must appreciate the fact that the work of policing is an onerous one. The officers can get overwhelmed by a heavy workload.
Law enforcement agencies must at all times know that there are advocates interested in their
#endcuttinggirls work. This will keep them on their toes.
When an FGM case is taken to court, advocates and members of the Community need to be there to provide both moral and technical support to the prosecutors and the survivors.
I must state at this point that enforcement alone is not going to #endcuttinggirls, but will actually help us reduce the rate at which the act is been perpetrated
We must employ other means such as is being promoted by the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM: Accelerating Change.
These include; sensitisation, consensus building, community dialogue, social media engagement, etc. For more information about the Social Media Campaign to eliminate FGM under the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme, please visit www.endcuttinggirls.org and @endcuttinggirls on all social media platforms. You may also join us on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. On all these platforms we share updates and information on FGM.
We also invite you to participate in our monthly Frown Challenge Competition, every last Friday of the month, where you can state your opinion on the topic for the month.
Join us again next month. Together we will endcuttinggirls in this generation.
With that we have come to the end of today’s Facebook Conference. We will take questions now. Thanks for joining us.