TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Protecting Women and Girls from FGM in Times of COVID-19: Role of Traditional institution – 18th February, 2021.
According to a UNICEF Publication, Hundreds of millions of children and adolescents will likely face increasing threats to their safety and well-being in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.
These threats includes gender-based violence (GBV), exploitation, abuse and neglect, social exclusion, and/or separation from caregivers and friends.
We know from the Ebola outbreaks and from other public health crises that adolescent girls are disproportionally affected by these emergencies.
Efforts to stop the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures and a loss of education; a decrease in access to reproductive health information and services; a loss of livelihoods and a contraction of social support networks.
These undermine strategies to end FGM and child marriage, and threaten the progress that has been made over the past decade.
In this unprecedented era of this pandemic, the traditional Institution, can make a positive contribution in protection Girls/Women from FGM while preventing the spread of the virus and serve as a source of comfort and stability.
Traditional rulers are well-positioned to respond and communicate messages and teaching to their communities in times of crisis.
Countries around the world are enacting strict measures to reduce the probability of an individual contracting the disease or spreading it to others.
Misinformation and rumors related to the spread of the virus and poor preventive measures can be harmful if followed by members of any community.
The Traditional Institution remains a very significant element in the society that cannot be ignored.
Their influence varies enormously across the different cultures and localities of the country.
Their influence even becomes more relevant in this campaign to stamp out a practice which is embedded in tradition.
As custodians of tradition, it becomes imperative to have their buy-in if we must #Endcuttinggirls
The Traditional Institution exerts much power and influence when it comes to issues related to culture and Tradition like FGM.
Global leaders have called for social distancing. As such, the traditional institution should use new methods to support their community members and maintain lines of communication to ensure that Girls/Women are safe from FGM.
The traditional institution can employ the use of town criers to educate their people about COVID-19 also using that same opportunity to notify them about the dangers of FGM.
Town criers during the lockdown will be very effective because most of the community members are staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The traditional rulers should work closely with the Primary Health care facilities to report any suspected case of FGM during immunization services.
The traditional rulers should ensure that End FGM community champions maintain social distance while carrying out their household visits.
UNICEF_Nigeria State FGM implementing partners will continue to respond to reported cases of FGM as they work with the Government of Nigeria to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring that girls/ women are safe from FGM.
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.
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).
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.