Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) continuously rises as a topic of focus in the world today. People are speaking up in the bus to reduce child mortalities resulting from different cases of infant circumcision. We spoke with Ademola Adebisi, a Community health professional, who runs Value Reorientation for Community Enhancement (VARCE), an NGO just to combat it here us what he had to say:
What challenges have you faced since the inception of your organization?
- Issues with Community Mobilization: During mobilization for FGM activities in communities, we seldom have challenge in mobilizing community members to a central location due to lack of stipends. Most community members are mainly concerned on what financial gain they will get from the activities to be carried out in their community. Although some gatekeepers, such as FGM champions, Traditional leaders, and Religious leaders have been supporting in mobilizing communities, most gatekeepers requests for fund to mobilize their community members from distance neighborhoods
- Lack of Conducive Central Location: We also have challenge of getting conducive central location to carry out activities for a long period of time. Most communities do not have a hall suitable for activities such as Community Drama presentation, Film screening, as well as community dialogue. Due to this, some community members are not persuaded to stay long enough to get the necessary information needed to end FGM.
- FGM Status of female FGM Activists: During sensitization campaigns, some community members have the habit of requesting to know if the female FGM activists among the team are mutilated.
Describe what the reception has been like concerning FGM in Nigeria
Most communities are highly receptive of the VARCE FGM team to their communities. This is possible due to advocacies and dialogues held with various opinion leaders and gatekeepers before community mobilization. Community mobilization is carried out with support of community stakeholders which enhances community partnership and ownership of the project. Community leaders views the project as a livewire to their community members and makes frantic efforts to ensure the FGM information is disseminated evenly among community members.
Myths you’d like to debunk about FGM? What you’d rather people have at the top of their minds?
The purpose of community sensitization is to disabuse the minds of the community members on certain myths and misconceptions, by sharing the correct and factual information on FGM. After sensitizations, community members are equipped with the right knowledge on FGM such as;
- We must sustain the good aspect of our culture and abandon the harmful ones such as FGM.
- Promiscuity is not as a result of non performance of FGM, but lack of good moral and parental upbringing. Most sex workers are mutilated and still get involved in prostitution.
- FGM is not the cause of Low birth rate among couples in recent times. Most couples plan their family based on available resources through the various Family Planning options.
- Male circumcision is different from female circumcision/female genital mutilation. While male circumcision entails removing the foreskin of a male child penis and has medical benefits, FGM involves partial or total cutting of the female external genitalia, without any medical benefit.
FGM leads to deadly results. How many cases of such results have you witnesses so far since your NGO became active?
During interaction with relevant stakeholders in the communities, such as Traditional circumcisers, Quack medical personnel, community health extension workers (CHEW), among others, we have been able to witness five (5) cases FGM leading to death of the female child.
The recent case was witnessed in Bode Osi community of Olaoluwa LGA.
How do you think awareness about FGM could be better disseminated or even received better?
- FGM awareness will be better received by community members through booklets in their local dialect with townhall sessions to educate them on the basics of FGM as well as the law guiding FGM in Nigeria.
- Relevant gatekeepers such as Traditional circumcisers, town criers and FGM champions in the communities should be given refresher trainings on disseminating FGM information to community members
- More community drama presentations should be staged in other communities yet to be reached with FGM awareness.
- Relevant opinion leaders should be engaged to monitor and report FGM practices in the communities.
Tell me something unique about your NGO
Value Reorientation for Community Enhancement (VARCE) is a youth focused, youth led community based organization with staff skilled in community mobilization, facilitation and programme design and implementation. We have our volunteers scattered in the 30 LGAs in Osun state, Ekiti State, Kwara State and FCT, Abuja. Among our staff are FGM activitist, Girl child activitist, Gender specialist among others.
What questions or cases of FGM do you have or have you experienced? What do you know about it? Let’s talk!