TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Protecting Girls/Women from FGM during #COVID19 Lockdown: Role of The Family
by Twitter Team @endcuttinggirls
Thursday 30th April 2020
COVID-19 is having both short-term and far-reaching implications for our families, friends and colleagues. It also has an impact on our work, and will affect the achievement of our shared vision of a world without violence against children.
As the virus continues to spread across the world, we are all facing multiple new stresses, including physical and psychological health risks, school and business closures, family confinement, isolation and economic vulnerability.
Children are particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 Lockdown. Quarantine measures imposed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic are putting girls and women at heightened risk of violence in the home and cutting them off from essential protection services and social networks.
Economic stress on families due to the outbreak can put children, and in particular girls, at greater risk of exploitation, child labour and gender-based violence. Most especially FGM. Global lockdowns also lock down girls’ autonomy, reinforcing the attitudes and practices that regard girls as second class and hold them back.
Every year 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to the potential negative health consequences of this harmful practice. FGM has no known health benefits, and those girls and women who have undergone the procedure are at great risk of suffering from its complications throughout their lives.
The procedure of FGM is painful and traumatic, and is often performed under unsterile conditions by a traditional practitioner who has little knowledge of female anatomy or how to manage possible adverse events.
Moreover, the removal of or damage to healthy genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and may cause severe immediate and long-term negative health consequences. FGM violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. It is also a violation of the right to life when the procedure results in death.
The family is an intimate domestic group made up of people related to one another by bonds of blood, sexual mating or legal ties. It is the smallest and most basic social unit, which is also the most important primary group found in any society.
It is the simplest and most elementary group found in a society. It is a social group consisting of a father, mother and one or more children. It is the most immediate group a child is exposed to.
In fact, it is the most enduring group, which has tremendous influence on the life of an individual from birth until death.
The Family also accounts for the most enduring social relationship found in society.A family, which is usually made up of people who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption, is very important to most Nigerians and Africa at large.
Family is one of the most important relationships a person can have in their life. Whether it’s nuclear or extended family relations, it is equally important to maintain and establish strong connections with them.
In contexts where FGM is a social norm, families and individuals uphold the practice because they believe that their group or society expects them to do so. Abandonment of the practice requires a process of social change that results in new expectations on families.
Families must therefore work together to protect all children and act now to prevent and mitigate each of the risks they might face during the #COVID19 lockdown.
Most FGM practicing communities believes that female genital is to ensure that a girl behaves properly, saves her virginity until she gets married and then stays faithful to her husband.
Instead of thinking about performing FGM to achieve that believe, they can educate their children on moral values during the #COVID19 lockdown.
Families can also use the #COVID19 lockdown to talk to other relatives during their leisure phone conversations on the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation.
The COVID19 lockdown is not an opportunity for FGM rather it another opportunity for parents to bond with their children and teach them moral values.
Before we close, we would like to share a brief overview of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for the benefit of those joining our tweet conference for the first time.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) includes all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. @WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies FGM into four types, and all four types are all practiced in Nigeria.
Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; 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). Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora & 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). Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; 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 nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Nigeria, especially Imo State.
FGM has no known health benefit, and is harmful to girls and women. It involves altering, removing and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue.
It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM, and every year some 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to its potential negative health consequences (UNICEF 2016).
In Nigeria, the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2018) revealed that 20% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 25% (NDHS 2013).
For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch
At this point, I will stop the conversation so we can reflect on the key points discussed as I entertain any questions.
Thanks for being part of the conversations today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our www.endcuttinggirls.org for more info and updates on FGM, and kindly follow the handle “@Endcuttinggirls” on all social media platforms.
Together we will end FGM in this Generation.