Tweet Conferences

TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: COVID19 and Harmful Practices such as FGM

by Twitter Team @endcuttinggirls

Thursday 7th May 2020

COVID-19 has upended the lives of children and families across the globe and is impacting efforts to end child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).    

Actions taken to contain the spread of the pandemic – such as school closures and movement restrictions – are disrupting children’s routines and their support systems.   

Hundreds of millions of children and adolescents will likely face increasing threats to their safety and well-being, including 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 Ebola epidemics 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.    

The COVID-19 response can draw important lessons from the Ebola epidemics in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo:    

SOCIAL DISTANCING is reducing the provision of social services (health, education and protection) and limiting community gatherings and face-to-face interactions in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic. But these are key tools in efforts to end child marriage and FGM.    

NON-BIOMEDICAL EXPLANATIONS of disease may stigmatize vulnerable groups and lead to the denial of services and care, and to violence against marginalized groups, including witchcraft accusations against children and women.    

EPIDEMICS ARE DISRUPTORS and can be harnessed for positive social change. During the Ebola crisis, FGM was interrupted in Guinea and Sierra Leone. While FGM resumed after the end of the epidemic, a public health crisis and the disruption it causes could potentially be leveraged to advocate for an end to harmful practices.    

NOT ALL HARMFUL PRACTICES HAVE THE SAME EFFECTS. While FGM declined – even if only temporarily – teenage pregnancies increased in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis. This shows that the drivers and inhibitors of FGM and child marriage differ from each other and require issue-specific strategies.    

NEW NETWORKS, such as those generated during the Ebola outbreaks, created systems of cooperation that can be reactivated. The lessons learned in communities about epidemic response make them more resilient to other public health crises.    

Key effects of COVID-19 for children, including adolescents, and efforts to end harmful practices: social isolation and loss of social support.    

Increased risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.    

Loss of access to education, reproductive health and protection services.    

Loss of livelihoods.    

Opportunities to disrupt FGM and child marriage.    

Opportunities for young people to take on positive, new roles in their communities.    

To ensure that Children are safe from harmful practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, new ways of providing information and support need to be developed and can include:    

Broaden the use of mass media, community radio and digital media to provide children, including adolescents, and their communities with access to information and communication tools.    

Create online opportunities for children, including adolescents, to share their experiences and concerns, communicate with their peers and access sources of support.    

Partner with local women’s organizations, traditional birth attendants and organizations for persons with disabilities to provide continued services for girls at risk.    

Establish safe, trusted and confidential channels for children, including adolescents, to report violence, exploitation and abuse.    

Support young people in taking on new roles: Partner with youth organizations to support and build the capacities of adolescents as educators and facilitators, communicators and mentors, as well as to provide support in their communities.    

Opportunity in crisis: As was done during the Ebola crisis, work with community groups and traditional leaders to interrupt FGM and identify other opportunities to harness the disrupting force of the pandemic for positive social change.    

For additional reading on  Technical note On COVID-19 and Harmful Practices kindly visit https://www.unicef.org/documents/technical-note-covid-19-and-harmful-practices    

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.   

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Tweet Conferences

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.  

READ MORE
Facebook Conference

FACEBOOK CONFERENCE SCRIPT: National Lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and its effect on the campaign to EndFGM

According to UNICEF coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is of a scale most people alive today have never seen. Worldwide, the outbreak is claiming lives and livelihoods as health systems buckle, borders close and families struggle to stay afloat.

Communities across the globe are rising to the challenge – from health workers risking their lives to fight the virus, to young people deploying innovative ways to share public health messages.

Yet, even as the spread of the virus slows in some countries, its social toll will come fast and hard. And in many places, it will come at the expense of the most vulnerable children.

Without urgent action, this health crisis risks becoming a child-rights crisis. Disruptions to society have a heavy impact on children: on their safety, their well-being, their future. Only by working together can we keep millions of girls and boys – including those who have been uprooted by conflict, children living with disabilities and girls at risk of violence – healthy, safe and learning. Most especially Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has affected the social and economic wellbeing of generations of Girls/Women. Globally, many endFGM campaigns have been introduced to help end this harmful traditional practice. Yet, even in the efforts to arrest these harmful cultural practices, not all actors share in this vision.

In some FGM practicing communities, disparate voices continue to champion continuation of harmful cultures rather than advancing human rights of Girls/Women. These factions seem to take advantage of emergency situations such as COVID-19 pandemic to perpetuate such harmful practices.

In situations of conflicts and disaster, FGM practices present a life-threatening, health and human rights challenge. In cases of FGM, a survivor has no choice to refuse or pursue other options without severe social, physical, or cultural consequences. In emergencies, these consequences border on extreme intolerance or ethno-terrorism. This includes social sanctions such as being ostracized or suffering psychological abuse.

It includes invoking of cultural sanctions that can border on, being cursed and excommunication. It also comes with threats of physical harm such as death threats or risk of violence being verbally communicated or actualized. All of these constitute a violation of international human rights law and principles of gender equality as well as State/National laws prohibiting the practice of FGM in Nigeria.

Measures have been taken by  various Countries and states, going from total lockdown to less restrictive measures depending on the local situation. We can say that unfortunately the current situation may have an effect on the Campaign to end FGM.

In particular, FGM support services are not considered as a medical emergency and a lot of facilities are closed and will remain so for at least several more weeks. Medical staff have rightly been re-allocated to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak or encouraged to avoid any non-urgent medical care for now. As a result, many FGM survivors and Girls/women at risk in general are left without any access to needed medical care.

For many women and children, the home is not a safe place. UNFPA released its paper on ‘COVID-19: a gender lens’, explaining how women are specifically effected by this pandemic: “Pandemics compound existing gender inequalities and vulnerabilities, increasing risks of abuse. In times of crisis such as an outbreak, women and girls may be at higher risk, for example, of intimate partner violence and other forms of domestic violence due to heightened tensions in the household. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

They also face increased risks of other forms of gender based violence including sexual exploitation and abuse in these situations. For example, the economic impacts of the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, placed women and children at greater risk of exploitation and sexual violence. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

In addition, life-saving care and support to gender based violence survivors (i.e. clinical management of rape and mental health and psycho-social support) may be cut off in the health care response when health service providers are overburdened and preoccupied with handling COVID-19 cases. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

Systems must ensure that health workers have the necessary skills and resources to deal with sensitive gender-based violence related information, that any disclosure of gender based violence be met with respect, sympathy and confidentiality and that services are provided with a survivor centered approach. It is also critical to update gender based violence referral pathways to reflect changes in available care facilities and inform key communities and service providers about those updated pathways. ”, in a moment when #stayathome has become the new general rule. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

“Systems that protect women and girls – including community structures – may weaken or break down, specific measures should be implemented to protect women and girls from the risk of intimate partner violence with the changing dynamics of risk imposed by COVID-19”. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

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.

  1. 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.
  • a 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. 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.

READ MORE
Tweet Conferences

TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Protecting Girls/Women from FGM during #COVID19 Lockdown: Role of EndFGM Community Volunteers (champions, etc) – 23.04.2020

by Twitter Team @endcuttinggirls

According to Word Heath Organization (@WHO), Coronavirus is an infectious disease caused by the COVID-19 virus. 

The virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. 

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Due to the  COVID-19 pandemic, the lives of children and families across the globe has been upended and the impacting efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) #endcuttinggirls #COVID19

This critical moment, the role of End FGM Community volunteers cannot be left out.

End FGM Community  volunteers are in the best place to build trust with communities and community leaders. Therefore, it is important to listen to people and respond to their questions, fears and misinformation with fact-checked information that is useful to them.

End FGM Community volunteers have an important role in providing timely and actionable health information, so people know how to protect themselves and stay healthy.

They can then feel they have the right skills to help reduce risks and prevent the spread of COVID-19

while reminding them about the dangers of FGM.

End FGM Community volunteers Conducts Interpersonal communication sessions with individuals, families while maintain physical distancing.

Additionally, End FGM Community volunteers Support girls/women and influential community members to speak out against FGM .

Where there are cases of FGM, the End FGM Community volunteers reports such cases to the appropriative Ministries, Departments or Agencies with the help of their community leaders.  

If there should be any form of complication as a result of FGM, the End FGM Community volunteers ensures that such issues are addressed by service providers (health facilities, etc.)

End FGM Community volunteers can work as volunteers for statutory bodies or agencies involved in the end FGM campaign (community, LGA, State) to deliver FGM-related services.

The End FGM Community volunteers has the full power of their traditional rulers to monitor delivery homes to ensure female children are not subjected to FGM during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wherever a female baby is delivered within the community, the End FGM Community volunteers will be available to educate the family members on the dangers of FGM and COVID-19 which is known as “household education sessions”

The End FGM Community volunteers also team up in their community to campaign against any health issue that may increase the practice of FGM in their Community especially COVID-19. 

During an epidemic, there are often confusion and rumors about the disease. People will get a lot of different information from media, friends, family, social media, organizations or other sources. Some of these sources may give conflicting information.

What happens when people have too much information about a problem that makes it difficult to identify a solution?

  • People might become fearful and mistrust health recommendations. They might resist and deny the situation.
  • This can lead to people not using medical help and ignore life-saving health advice or escape measures (i.e quarantine) put in place by authorities and health services to prevent spread of the disease.
  • Misunderstandings about the disease can lead people to refuse help from health workers. They may even make threats or use violence.
  • Fearful people might start mistreating people who have or seem to be sick. This can happen even when they are cured already due to a lack of knowledge about effectiveness of treatment.

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. #endcuttinggirls #COVID19

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. #endcuttinggirls #COVID19

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. #endcuttinggirls #COVID19

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

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.  

READ MORE
Tweet Conferences

TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Protecting Girls/Women from FGM during the COVID-19 lockdown: Role of Traditional Institution – 16.04.2020

by Twitter Team @endcuttinggirls

According to a UNICEF Publication, Hundreds of millions of children and adolescents will likely face increasing threats to their safety and well-being. https://uni.cf/2yf73Qd

These threats including gender-based violence (GBV), exploitation, abuse and neglect, social exclusion, and/or separation from caregivers and friends.  https://uni.cf/2yf73Qd

We know from the Ebola outbreaks and from other public health crises that adolescent girls are disproportionally affected by these emergencies.  @UNICEF https://uni.cf/2yf73Qd 

Efforts to stop the Ebola epidemics 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. @UNICEF https://uni.cf/2yf73Qd   

These undermine strategies to end FGM and child marriage, and threaten the progress that has been made over the past decade. @UNICEF https://uni.cf/2yf73Qd   

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 EndFGM.

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. #COVID19

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). 

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

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.  

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Tweet Conferences

TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Protecting Girls/Women from FGM during the COVID-19 lockdown: Role of Government – 09.04.2020

by Twitter Team @endcuttinggirls

According to a @UNICEF Publication, “the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is of a scale most people alive today have never seen” (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action). Worldwide, the outbreak is claiming lives and livelihoods as health systems buckle, borders close and families struggle to stay afloat. 

Communities across the globe are rising to the challenge – from health workers risking their lives to fight the virus, to young people deploying innovative ways to share public health messages. Yet, even as the spread of the virus slows in some countries, its social toll will come fast and hard. And in many places, it will come at the expense of the most vulnerable children. 

According to UNICEF, “Without urgent action, this health crisis risks becoming a child-rights crisis”. Disruptions to society have a heavy impact on children: on their safety, their well-being, their future.

As communities are disrupted, Girls/Women already at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse will find themselves even more vulnerable. Social and economic turmoil will heighten girls’ risk of early marriage, pregnancy and other forms of violence such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

With isolation, Girls/Women at risk of undergoing FGM will be farther from help. And the stress and stigma of illness and financial strain will exacerbate volatile family and community situations. 

We must prevent this pandemic from turning into a crisis of child protection. Governments need to account for the unique risks of girls and women. The existing crisis of violence against Girls/Women is likely to worsen in the context of COVID-19.

In Australia, a Women’s Safety New South Wales survey reveals that 40 per cent of frontline workers have reported increased requests for help by survivors, and 70 per cent have reported that the cases received have increased in their level of complexity during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Increase in reports of violence is happening at the same time that services are being compromised. 

Life-saving care and support to women who experienced violence (i.e. clinical management of rape and mental health and psycho-social support) may be disrupted when health service providers are overburdened and preoccupied with handling COVID-19 cases. Even where basic essential services are maintained, a collapse in a coordinated response between different sectors, i.e., health, police and justice and social services response, and social distancing will mean that sectors will be challenged to provide meaningful and relevant support to women and girls who are experiencing violence.

In other cases, where movement is restricted, and/or where access to quality essential services is limited, or being administered differently, as a result of social distancing (e.g. counselling by phone, emails or other platforms), requests for help have been decreasing.

Women and girls at this time may not be able to reach networks, organizations that provide support and recognize abuse (e.g. women’s rights networks, teachers, health workers, faith leaders, community development officers, Child Protection Network etc.).

Also, given the existing gender digital divide, women and girls in many countries, especially those who face multiple forms of discrimination, may not have access to a mobile phone, computer, or internet to access services or be able to safely use these at home as they may be closely monitored by the perpetrator and other family members. The social and economic costs of violence against women and girls are substantial, with broader costs associated with delivering services to victims, as well as the costs related to the criminal justice response.

The global cost of violence against women and girls (public, private and social) is estimated at approximately 2 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), or US$1.5 trillion. That figure can only be rising as violence increases now, and continues in the aftermath of the pandemic.

A predicted rise in the different forms and manifestations of violence against women and girls will not only exacerbate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis but will also slow down economic recovery across the world.  The economic impact of COVID-19 resulting from the widespread closure of businesses and industries puts increased financial strain on communities.

Experience from the Ebola and Zika outbreaks shows that epidemics exacerbate existing inequalities, including those based on economic status, ability, age and gender. The financial impact of COVID-19 will also affect the capacity of local women’s organizations, to advocate for policy reforms on violence against women and girls and for service provision to survivors of violence over the long-term.

It is critical for Government to address the increase of violence against Girls/Women during COVID-19 lockdown as stated below;

  • Government should allocate additional resources and include evidence-based measures to address violence against women and girls in COVID-19 national response plans.
  • Government should Treat services for women who experienced violence, including FGM, as essential services.
  • Government should strengthen services, including shelters, through capacity rapid assessments, and through design of risk assessments, safety planning and case management, adapted to the crisis context, to ensure survivors’ access to support.  
  • Government should ensure psychosocial support for women and girls who experienced violence and frontline health and social support workers.  
  • Government should expand the capacity of shelters, including re-purposing other spaces, such as empty hotels, or education institutions, to accommodate quarantine needs.   
  • Government should strengthen helplines, through online counselling and technology-based solutions such as Short Message Services (SMS), online tools, and social support networks.  
  • Government should raise awareness of police and judiciary about the increase of violence against women and girls during COVID-19 and provide training on how to respond, protect and refer victims and survivors to appropriate services.  
  • Government should train first responders on psychosocial support, including health workers, law enforcement and court officials and emergency shelter and counselling staff still operating during the crisis.  
  • Government should provide training for education and child services staff on safety and referral information for children who may be experiencing abuse at home or who may be vulnerable to online predators.  
  • Government should ensure support for grassroots women’s rights organizations, especially those that provide essential services to hard-to-reach, remote and vulnerable populations.
  • Government should ensure women’s organizations and women’s community organizations participate in the decision-making processes so that needs and concerns are identified and included in prevention of and responses to violence against women and girls.  
  • Government should consider the role of women’s organizations in recovery plans and the longer-term solutions to address the increase of violence against women and girls during COVID-19.
  • Government should collect sex-disaggregated data on the incidence of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence (including psychological and economic violence) and sexual violence, recording place of occurrence.  
  • Government should collect data on the needs and capacity of services to respond to the increased demand from women and girls in the context of COVID-19.  
  • In conclusion, the Government should ensure that any data collection effort does not put women and girls at greater risk of violence and distress.  .

Across the globe, UNICEF is working with communities, governments and partners to slow the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the social and economic impacts on children and their families. UNICEF commits to the statements below; (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).

  1. UNICEF commits to – Working with governments, authorities and global health partners to ensure vital supplies and protective equipment reach the most vulnerable communities. (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).
  2. UNICEF commits to – Prioritizing the delivery of life-saving medicines, nutrition and vaccines, and working closely with governments and logistics networks to mitigate the impact of travel restrictions on the delivery of these supplies. (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).
  3. UNICEF commits to – Working with partners to urgently distribute water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to the most vulnerable communities.  (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).
  4. UNICEF commits to – Distributing vital public health messaging and advice to slow the transmission of the virus and minimize mortality. (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).
  5. UNICEF commits to – Supporting governments to keep schools safe and ensure children continue to learn. (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).
  6. UNICEF commits to – Providing advice and support to parents, caregivers and educators to support home and remote learning, and working with partners to design innovative education solutions. (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).
  7. UNICEF commits to – Providing guidance to employers on how best to support working parents, and designing new social protection solutions that ensure the poorest households can access critical funding. (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).
  8. UNICEF commits to – Providing peer-to-peer learning and information sharing between young people to support their mental health and combat stigma, xenophobia and discrimination. (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).
  9. UNICEF commits to – Stepping up our work with refugee and migrant children and those affected by conflict to ensure they are protected from COVID-19. (https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/agenda-for-action).

The 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). 

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.

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.

READ MORE