…Scary Tales from Victims
In recent years, there has been a huge awareness in many African communities among many families to put shame aside and tell the stories of the scars left on them by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), even as the Federal Government of Nigeria outlawed the act in 2015. But the act still persists in hidden corners of most Nigerian communities leaving tales of extreme pains and raw scary memories for all the women especially those who went through the extreme form of FGM.
Afusat Saliu, a Nigerian seeking asylum after her visitor’s visa expired begged not to be deported from the United Kingdom on the basis that she feared her two daughters will be forced to undergo FGM in Nigeria. She lost her case and was deported in June this year.
Many online commentators, especially Nigerians were not empathetic towards Afusat, saying her fear was unfounded that no one in Nigeria goes through extreme form of FGM. They said this out of ignorance.
Mr. and Mrs. Adebayo who lives in a sub hub in Lagos State, South West, Nigeria narrated their ordeal to reporters, stating that their daughters lives are insecure.
“We are afraid. Our children are scared. We do not know what to do. This is a serious issue that needs continuous attention of everyone. As we speak, many parents struggle to keep away their daughters from older native relatives who still hold strongly on the age long tradition of genital mutilation as a must.
Narrating her ordeal, Mrs. Adebayo affirmed that “As a Yoruba, I learnt from my mother that the type of circumcision in my region was type 1 supposedly the mild form of FGM – however, that does not make it any better in any sense. She described it as an incision on the clitoris deep enough to shed blood – the reasoning behind this was as barbaric as the act itself. My part of the Yoruba does not remove the clitoris and I still do not know what the point was.
“I live in Lagos, with my husband, a small town in Lagos State. Coming from a traditional background, I went through FMG, popularly known as Circumcision, because my grandparents told me then that it is a must, that it is there age long tradition. According to him, if I don’t do it I will die. Out of fear, I had to allow it happen.
Growing up and being enlightened and educated; I now saw the danger in it. When I married I had to convert to Christianity and I sought the attention of my husband, about the intention of some of my relatives and their beliefs on our first daughter. He was furious and told me point blank that not under his roof that such barbaric act will happen.
“On hearing the outburst of my husband, my uncles being one of the strongest traditional believers started causing confusion and even attempted to separate both of us. Their grouse was that we have backed down from the belief they impacted in us.
“It will interest you to note that I have three daughters aged 11, 9 and 6 respectively who are always full of excitements, always had lots to tell.
“Just of recent, my uncle came to my house while my husband was out of town on an official business engagement. It took the help of a neighbor who heard my cry for help as he was determined to carry out FGM on my children. My kids were scared when they saw sharp blades and other instruments that was to be used. It was and still an emotional scar to them as my husband and I still keep trying to allay their fears. I strongly believe they are also responsible for the present state of our daughters as they have severally threatened to use spiritual means to deal with us, so as to make us bulge and accede to their request on FGM.
On arrival, my husband reported the case at the police station and also threatened to take legal action against my uncles; a move that is currently threatening the peace of my lovely marriage. Not stopping at that, my mum is also on the verge of being thrown out of my late dad’s (her late husband) house on the premise that she is supporting me against the wish and beliefs of the family
“We have reported the case to the Nigeria Police but it seems they are in tandem with the tradition and will require more than mere reporting for actions to be taken. Presently, I know we may need to relocate to an undisclosed location as we are scared for our lives, and if we, as educated can be put through horrible experiences like this then what is the hope of other numerous persons out there,” she posited.
Another true life story is that of the Adelajas. They were originally from Iwo – a town in Osun state well known for the Arabic/Islamic education.
A similar story is that of the Oche Family. They are from the middle belt of the country, precisely Benue State. Their case has sparked reactions in the social media.
They are also seeking help from the government. Their story is similar to the Adebayos.
The question is: Is the teenage girl circumcision peculiar to some set of family, state or religion ? Or just the majority Muslims? Why is the practice a compulsion in some family, state or religion ?
Whatever the answer is, we can only help the voiceless by shedding lights about the potential danger of this needless and harmful traditions.
Attitude towards FGM has rarely changed , the practice is going on in significant numbers.