In 1980, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was signed by 189 countries

After the United Nations declared a response to violence against women and girls imperative in 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) then identified VAWG as a health priority 2013

And in 2015, elimination of violence against women and girls became a target of the Sustainable Development Goal as well as elimination of female genital mutilation.

Just like FGM, every form of violence against women and girls predates civilization and have been of varied intensity based on times, beliefs and the general society.

When the world got struck my , a surge in violence against women and children was recorded in many parts of the world  

While many argued officially and unofficially about the cause of the surge, the increase showed that many of the dangers are woven around caregivers and people trusted by victims/survivors

Interestingly, to combat a menace, we need to rely on systems that are familiar and we trust to protect the interests of the abused and a shield against the enablers of violence and FGM  

In every society where violence against girls and women are perpetrated without check, the enablers would be seen to have overpowered dissenting voices through spread of false information, myths and misconceptions.  

This will then keep the people in perpetual fear and gradually become numb to taking actions

How does this work with FGM and other forms of violence against women and girls? First, let us define FGM for the benefits of those joining this weekly  chat 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.  @WHO @endcuttinggirls

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).   

The decrease recorded in the NDHS 2018 survey can be attributed to many reasons and one of them is the use of community based structures to combat FGM at the practicing communities

To achieve a total elimination of FGM by 2030 inline with the sustainable development goals, it is important that prevention prioritized with a functional response system

The UNJP programme on  uses a model that puts community members and stakeholders in a structured movement to help monitor house and reduce incidences of fgm at these communities

Such structures include but not limited to FGM community champion, Male Engage Alliance, and the Community Based Child Based Protection Committee

Structures like the ones mentioned above rely on communal strength – popularity in the community, integrity and ‘grassroot and grass top acceptance’

To further achieve sterling results, it is necessary to continually train members of these various groups to help them adapt to any change in trick (narrative) of the perpetrators of these acts

Such capacity buildings will also help them to revise their modus operandi, incorporate lessons learnt and restrategise to have better results

It is through this that they can consolidate on the gains of the #enducttinggirls campaign to build a referral and care system

This will help community members, with women and girls at risks of any form of violence share vital information seamlessly – still without fear of any backlash ]

It will also make it easier for the repressed/marginalized women group together and have their case attended to appropriately

By engaging boys and men, building strong community coalitions and monitoring systems, the UN sustainable goal with elimination of FGM by 2030 will be achieved. Girls and women will no longer have to worry about harmful traditional practices

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. 

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0-dYD9cYKo&t=80s @WHO  

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.