Friday 24 February 2012

FGM in Nigeria: Raze the Abattoirs of Clitoral Disgust

Note: On my decision to retain the blog title see opinion.

This discreditable practice
This is 2012 and I find myself writing about acts in parts of the world that belong in a museum of antiquity long before mediaeval times as types of torture that defeminise women in a manifestly atrocious cultural or traditional rite.
Female Genital Mutilation [1] (FGM) despite the international activism against it is still rife and it does take lives without consequences for the perpetrators who do it still with impunity in their quest to hold on to their Neanderthal customs.
In this case, the news [2] in Nigeria is of a 17-year old girl who fled her family home and has been declared missing having witnessed the painful and agonising death over days of her younger sister who was grievously mutilated on January the 15th 2012.
Embracing shabby traditions
This reprehensibly irresponsible act was coordinated by her grandmother who corralled the family into participating in this rite of torture and enduring grievous bodily harm and what is almost unbelievable about this is the parties involved cannot be so matured in age to be oblivious of modern thinking.
The girls lived in Lagos, a sprawling metropolis and had returned to their homestead for the Christmas holidays in Ijaw-land, which happens to be the place from which our current highly educated, PhD holding President hails. Though from research, this practice is not restricted to that area, it is quite pervasive and it cuts a swathe through the whole south of West-Africa and parts of Chad arcing up through Sudan and Egypt to the north and through Ethiopia and Somalia to the east and horn of Africa where the prevalence [3] is up to 95% like a plague.
Types of FGM
The WHO identifies four types of Female Genital Mutilation [1] which intensify in the incredibly macabre for each more intrusive act that could involve cauterisation; it is almost unreadable for the horror of the exercise.
Type I: removal of the clitoral hood, the skin around the clitoris, with or without partial or complete removal of the clitoris;
Type II: removal of the clitoris with partial or complete removal of the labia minora;
Type III: removal of all or part of the labia minora and labia majora, and the stitching of a seal across the vagina, leaving a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood (infibulation);
Type IV: other miscellaneous acts, including cauterization of the clitoris, cutting of the vagina (gishiri cutting), and introducing corrosive substances into the vagina to tighten it.
Abattoirs of clitoral disgust
These are at best radical surgery, if tradition or custom and in some cases conflated with religion so dictates that this practice is essential, important and of the highest priority, they must be conducted under strict medical conditions probably under general anaesthetic and these village abattoirs of clitoral disgust must be razed.
The barbarity of this exercise is in the fact that seeming knowledgeable people aware of hygienic needs for surgical practice engage in the use of crude implements and unschooled hands hoping to be vindicated by long held traditions and the evidence of those who barely survived the ordeal.
It might be difficult to criminalise FGM in the many societies that practise it but all the charlatans who engage in the mutilation of genitalia outside of accredited modern medical facilities most be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and made a public example of.
Much as one will prefer that this practice be totally outlawed and completely stopped, if that is not possible, then this event must only occur in a hospital under professional supervision after extensive counselling of all parties involved.
This was murder
However, back to the case in Nigeria, the news story says the victim “suffered severe excruciating pains for days after the mutilation of her genital before her death.
It is very likely that after the mutilation she suffered severe bleeding and the perpetrators waited too long before they took her to hospital, by which time little could be done to save her life and that medical reports indicated she died of a “Post Circumcision haemorrhage.”
She basically bled to death.
Now, one can understand the sadness that accompanies the loss of a child, a grandchild, a sister and being back at the homestead, a close relation. It would appear that death did not remove the blinkers of absurd traditions from the perpetrators that they were ready to butcher the elder sister.
One cannot put it beyond these evil people that they were afraid that their heinous acts will be exposed that they could have schemed to sacrifice two young girls on the altar of tradition in order to cover their criminal enterprise – that calls for an intervention, it is an emergency that calls for justice to be expedited so that Joy Youmgbo would not have died in vain.
Arrest, indict, prosecute
The medical evidence is there, she died of a Post-Circumcision haemorrhage, it is now for the police to go after the grandmother and all her accomplices and pursue at the minimum a charge of manslaughter against all these people.
We have to come to a point in our society where no human being stands the risk of being sacrificed with impunity and with no consequence on the altar of custom, tradition, practice, creed or any belief system and civil society is able to protect the absoluteness of the right to life and happiness without anyone being subjected to the unpalatable for the preservation of the censurably odious.
If anything, the untimely and avoidable death of Joy Youmgbo must lead to greater agitation to stop the practice of FGM in Nigeria, one death is already one too many. I can only hope that Patricia Youmgbo finds succour for her pain of loss and protection from what those demons did to her sister.

1 comment:

Codliveroil said...

When I discovered this phenomena (some years back), I was surprised. I agree with you that this practice should be stopped/ strictly controlled. Only adults (over 18 years of age) who want it should be allowed to receive it.

This does not address other issues like a society:

- views whatever happens behind the doors of one's home as private.
- that has no faith in the police or the courts. Corruption has destroyed their credibility.
-  That condones the abuse of the defenceless by "elders"/ "respected figures".
- Where respect/ adherence to religious/cultural traditions trumps human rights.

You can see that is almost impossible eradicate not to mention regulate as things now stand.

To make it worse it is women who have been put in the position to inflict this misery on other women. You will always get the exception, saying that "it is the best thing to have ever happened to them". That being the case it should be restricted to adults who freely consent to subject themselves to this, in an established practice.

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