KNOCK , KNOCK.
BABA: YES COME IN
MARYAM: IT’S ME BABA
BABA: MY DAUGHTHER HOW ARE YOU.
MARYAM: (LOOKING QUITE) BABA, I DON’T WANT THIS MARRIAGE AGAIN WITH GARBA.
BABA: WHY MY DAUGHTHER? DID GARBA RAPE YOU AGAIN? MY DAUGHTHER, I AM CONFUSED ABOUT YOUR MARRIAGE.FORGIVE ME PLEASE. I KNOW I FORCED YOU.
MARYAM: BABA ,YOU FORCED ME TO MARRY GARBA.HE HAS RAPED ME REPEATEDLY,I DON’T GO TO SCHOOL ,I DON’T HAVE ANY ECONOMIC BACK UP PLAN.MOST OF ALL ,BABA,I HAVE HAD TO TWO MISCARRIAGES BECAUSE OF THE FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION THAT YOU MADE THEM CARRY OUT ON ME WHEN I WAS TEN YEARS OLD.(CRYING PROFUSELY)
BABA: (QUITE AND CRYING SILENTLY): MY DAUGHTHER PLEASE FORGIVE ME.
Deeply rooted in cultural beliefs female genital mutilation is practiced in over 28 countries in Africa including Nigeria. Countries like Mali ,sierra Leone ,Ghana, and Egypt have practiced it as an old and traditional practice to held and pass on to generations to come. With an estimation of about one –quarter of the 115-130 million, Nigeria, due to its population stands as the highest number of female genital mutilation worldwide. A practice that is shrouded in secrets, and its origin is uncertain have remained a violent act against women and girls by partially or fully cutting the external female genitalia. In Enugu, Nigeria, FGM is stems from patriarchal norms which ensure male dominance over women. In most communities in Enugu, the girl’s circumcision is performed on the 8th day of her birth mainstreaming it with her naming ceremony.
The debate on Female Genital Mutilation has continued to spark the motive behind it. Young girls are initiated into this act as passage to womanhood ensuring that virginity is protected, promiscuity is curbed to a very large extent .For example, Young Isha who hails from sierra Leone was mutilated at age 12.Not long thereafter she was told to get married. Young Zainab who hails from Sierra Leone refused to be mutilated .At age 13,she became an activist in her school. Her mother who was once a traditional cutter belongs to the Bondo Society. An all-female secret society who practice the act of genital mutilation as young as 6.
In Mali, the practice is becoming more and more shrouded as the act is discreetly performed within the family. The absence of outsiders is not seen anymore .This act usually becomes a celebration within a community as they arrive to witness the transformation and transmission of the young girl to woman hood. As of 2015,a good percentage of Malian girls ages 0-14 with a percentage of 76|% have undergone Female genital mutilation. UN is of the belief that Mali have failed to criminalize female genital mutilation subjecting young girl to an inhuman act which violates the fundamental human rights of an individual.
In the Nigerian Constitution which did not mention the act of Female genital mutilation as a crime or an illegal act thus mentioned in section 34 “no person shall be subjected to any form of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Likewise, the Child Rights act of 2003 section 11B states same starting with “no child….Theses two laws were vague as criminalizing the FGM as illegal. However, in the Violence Against person Prohibition Act (VAPP) of 2015 passed this law and specifically mentioned FGM and other forms of gender based violence as punishable acts. I believe the content of this act is rich and very concise, and precise in handling all forms of abuse as punishable acts. Any person who performs or engages another to carry out such circumcision commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 4 years and a fine of 200,000,00 or both. This also extends to the person who incites aids and abets or counsel another to a term of 2 years imprisonment and a fine 100,000,00 or both.
The essence of tradition and culture are YES a vital component of any society or community which bond s and moulds a society together and which thin threads of linen holds it together. But harmful traditions and cultures must be abolished for female emancipation and growth. Female genital mutilation is of no health benefits and causes severe psychological and mental trauma. In some instances, it causes haemorrhaging or tetanus during the procedure .This is an act where the surgical equipment is unsterilized, in an unhealthy environment, also carried by uncertified and untrained women. The results of such heinous act will lead to complications of child birth, infertility, trauma and infection. Community based agreement should be collectively involved towards the process of social change.
Maryam Husain MaiBasira studied at the London Academic Business School Stratford, United kingdom and a Gender and Human with The Federation of International Gender and Advocate and Fellow human Rights (FIGHR) New York, and currently running a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies at the University of Abuja.