By Anthony Ayeni

Reports have shown that every five minutes, somewhere on our planet, violence takes the life of another child. The violence that children face remains pervasive, and new risks are constantly emerging to put them in danger

While the first documented attempts to stop FGM date back to the early twentieth century, it is possible that undocumented initiatives were carried out by local populations prior to this time.

Female Genital Mutilation is a form of gender-based violence against women, which constitutes discrimination against women .

FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation.

FGM is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons.

There are four (4) types of female genital mutilation

Type 1: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (clitoridectomy).

Type 2: partial or total removal of & clitoris and & labia minora, with or without excision of & labia majora (excision).

Type 3: narrowing of & vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning & labia minora and/or & labia majora, with or without excision of & clitoris (infibulation).

Type 4: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

The type of procedure performed also varies, mainly with ethnicity. Current estimates (from surveys of women older than 15 years old) indicate that around 90% of female genital mutilation cases include either Types I (mainly clitoridectomy), II (excision) or IV (“nicking” without flesh removed), and about 10% (over 8 million women) are Type III (infibulation).

Most genitally mutilated females live in more than 20 countries in Africa, in some countries in the Middle East, and in a few countries in Asia.

So, contrary to popular belief, FGM is not a religious requirement for Muslims and Christians.

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.

There are no known health benefits of Female Genital Mutiltion (FGM)

Late complications vary depending on the type of FGM. They include the formation of scars and keloids that lead to strictures and obstruction, epidermoid cysts that may become infected, and neuroma formation (growth of nerve tissue) involving nerves that supplied the clitoris.

For additional information on FGM/C, please visit our YouTube channel or website at www.endcuttinggirls.org

The most common risk factors for either undergoing FGM or forcing a girl to undergo the procedure are cultural, religious and social.

These influences include social pressure to conform to peers, perception of FGM as necessary to raise a girl properly and prepare her for adulthood and marriage e.t.c.

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).

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int 

It’s important to sustain this public declaration by making sure the abide to the promises made. One of the ways of doing this is through the child protection network CPN

Working holistically has been fundamental to the Joint Programme’s approach since its inception. It leads to sustainable, long-term change such has community public declaration of abandonment of FGM.

The Joint Programme efforts to change social behaviors in target communities are largely focused on raising awareness and building community consensus around abandoning the practice, with a public declaration to end FGM as a means to the final milestone of the process.

The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) has continued to decline around the world, including in high prevalence countries where the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have been implementing the Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change. The programme seeks to eliminate FGM in one generation .

While continuing to embrace a holistic and comprehensive approach to creating an enabling environment through policy and legislation, supporting access to comprehensive services and empowering communities to drive social change, Phase III of the Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change (2018–2021) focuses on strengthening interventions:

One of the interventions includes; Improving community surveillance and response mechanisms for monitoring and reporting FGM cases following public declarations of FGM abandonment

However, a community declaration to abandon FGM is in reality a progress marker rather than a final result, as communities can easily reverse their normative behaviours once declarations have been passed.

Communities therefore require sustained support even after a declaration has been passed. There is evidence within some communities that a type of resistance may occur after the declaration of FGM abandonment, or a different form of FGM, may be practiced by some households.

While prevalence continues to drop, with a projected further five-point decline by 2030, 

Recent years have been marked by a change in approach in the information, education, and communication campaigns directed at the practice of FGM.

Innovative methods, such as the use of music, theater, and films, have been increasingly employed to reach the population.

These methods have been incorporated into programs carried out by the health sector and schools and have on the long  run help to create awareness on the abandonment of FGM.

The ‘CPNs’ are community-based child protection networks, which exists in over half of Nigeria’s 36 states. CPN members carry out monitoring, documentation and reporting of child rights abuse cases.  

Child Protection Network is a coalition of groups and NGOs that are interested in protecting the welfare of children.  

Over the past three decades, there have been various efforts towards the abandonment of FGM and this effort has started yielding good results as communities are already coming out to publicly abandon the act.  

Because changes in culture can be hard, organization such as CPN can help to monitor this post declaration changes

CPN over time has played a major role in ending female genital mutilation. An example is seeing in ebonyi state, that lead to kick start the coming together of several communities to publicly declare an end to . https://youtu.be/XOf7b4qcc6E

Also in other states like osun;  https://youtu.be/zO0utLYwIaM

Since CPN was a major stakeholders in the abandonment of FGM they can also help to monitor the communities that have publicly declared an abandonment of FGM by developing child protection in the communities that have abandoned FGM.

CPN can monitor the compliance made during the public declaration by identifying the types of risks confronting children or the ability of families and the community to stand with the vows they make during the public declaration.

They can also monitor the compliance by Acting as a focal point for reporting child protection concerns such as FGM.  

Also by developing  prevention and early-intervention strategies that address children at risk of FGM before the need for special protection.

In communities where there is adequate legislative framework designed to protect children from abuse, CPN can also help to monitor the effectiveness of  it.

The can also monitor FGM Referral system or help survivors access local services by bringing them to the attention of service providers or groups who can help address their needs, such as access to welfare support, medical attention.

They can also help in Identifying vulnerable children and trying to understand the reasons or causes of their vulnerability and find solution to it or refer them to appropriate institution.  

CPN can also help my monitoring and follow up every child that was given birth after the public declaration in such communities to be sure they are not mutilated.

CPN can also track birth record of child born after the public declaration to be sure that they are not mutilated.

They also help to check the activities of other NGO’s or association in the communities.

CPN can help in monitoring cross-border FGM, as more people try to avoid prosecution in their own communities by travelling to neighboring communities seeking FGM for girls and women.

CPN can also help to monitor and make sure alternative rites of passage agreed during the FGM abandonment are strictly followed.

To be successful, child protection strategies and approaches require the involvement of communities, families, parents/guardians, teachers, traditional and religious leaders, elected representatives and government authorities.

To improve the care of children at risk  FGM and children in need of special protection through the strengthening of human resource knowledge, skills and attitude, and through the development of intersectoral involvement.

CPN can help to implement activities that appropriately address psychosocial problems of children in the communities and that will include identification of children at risk  of fgm, diagnosis, early-intervention , action and proper early referral mechanisms to cub such act.

And most importantly to improve protection activities at the village level through the participation of the communities themselves.

Child protection is of relevance to all children and not just the children considered at high risk of rights violations such as FGM or who live in vulnerable situations, although they may have particular protection requirements.

As a result, child protection is the responsibility of society as a whole and involves a range of groups.

Endeavour to visit www.endcuttinggirls.org , and follow us on twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube using @endcuttinggirls.  .

It’s time for questions

Together we will end FGM in this generation