TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Community Based Child Protection Committee: A System For Monitoring Compliance To Commitment Made During The Public Declaration Of Abandonment Of FGM- 28.11.2019
FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation, and is defined as all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
There are four types of FGM, as classified by World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1997 and subdivided in 2008, and they are:
Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).
Subdivisions of FGM Type I are: FGM Type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only and FGM Type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.
Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).
Subdivisions of FGM Type II are: IIa, removal of the labia minora only; IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; and IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora.
Type III: 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 (infibulation).
Subdivisions of FGM Type III are: FGM Type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; and FGM Type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.
Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.
Type IV: unclassified – All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, pulling, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.
In 1997 the people of Malicounda Bambara Village in Senegal became the first village to organise a Public Declaration of Abandonment of FGM (PDA of FGM), which has been replicated in other African communities.
Under the UNJP, a PDA of FGM is defined as “collective and formal public ceremony involving one or many communities typically villages but more and more districts and ethnic groups-who participate in an event where manifest, through their representatives, their specific commitment to abandoning FGM”.
The experiences from these communities show that, after months or years of engagement and consensus building, PDA of FGM indicates a bottom-up manifestation of change.
When communities publicly denounce FGM, they are declaring to themselves and other communities, that they have abandoned the practice, which then helps in paving the way for other communities especially those with which they regularly inter-marry – to do the same. An evaluation conducted by UNICEF in 2007, in Senegal, revealed that 77% (about 8 out of 10) of the communities that publically committed to abandon FGM had indeed abandoned the practice and maintained their decision 10 years later.
Despite the importance of the PDA of FGM, experience from the UNJP has shown that “a PDA of FGM does not mean that the declaring village is free from FGM; rather it represents a milestone in the process of abandonment because it signals the change in social expectations”.
Therefore, the UNJP has suggested that, after a PDA of FGM, there needs to be a process of organized diffusion that ensures the decision spreads rapidly within the community and is sustained.
This process of social diffusion is typically led by a critical mass of community members such as trained volunteers (e.g. FGM Champions).
Another key lesson learned from the UNJP is the need to ensure that post-public declaration mechanisms are in place, e.g. community level Child Protection Committee.
Experience from the UNJP has shown that PDA of FGM does not guarantee compliance to keep the girls free from FGM.
Thus, the UNJP recommends the strengthening of post-public declaration mechanisms and establishment of community-level surveillance and support systems to ensure families and communities follow through on their commitment to abandon FGM.
Depending on the country context, post-public declaration initiatives will rely on either community leaders, women’s or youth groups, or law enforcement actors.
Functional helplines with rapid intervention groups will be developed within the surveillance system.
It is important to have a training session with the Surveillance Team to equip them with necessary skills to carry out their activities. .
After the training, each Committee member (President and Secretary) from the various Communities will present the training report to their Traditional Rulers.
They will inform him that they were asked to step-down the training to members in all the villages in their community during their regular meetings
After the step-down, each group will constitute a CBCPC comprising of two members from each village for effective monitoring and reporting.
The CBCPC will educate community members about the commitments made to end FGM during their Public Declaration using existing platforms in the community such as religious meetings; kindred meetings; etc..
CBCPC will met and dialogue with groups of men, women, boys, and girls on monitoring their members to ensure that they do not engage in FGM.
CBCPC will visit families of their pregnant member to remind them that the community has abandoned FGM and dissuade from cutting the child if it is a girl.
The CBCPC will identify opposing individuals and/or groups, who require further engagement, and continue to dialogue with them until the new social norm of “not cutting girls” is entrenched in the community.
The CBCPC will document all children born in the community. If it is a girl, they will follow up with her family to ensure that she is not cut.
They will document the FGM status of each girl. This will be validated when the child is taken for immunization at 6 weeks. This process will enable the UNJP to calculate the number of girls saved from FGM, which is an indicator of the FGM situation in the community.
They CBCPC will make referrals to FGM-related services providers (Health, Social and Legal), and also notify the EndFGM Helplines. However, all cases must be reported to the Traditional Ruler, before begin referred to these service providers.
Each village CBCPC will present their reports from the CBCPC Village Register at the regular (monthly) meetings of their Association, which will be collated by the Secretary into the CBCPC Community Register. They will keep records of their activities and minutes of their meetings.
Finally, the CBCPC will compile their monthly reports and it will be submitted to the Traditional Ruler.