CIRDDOC/UNFPA Sensitisation Programme on the Ebonyi State Abolition of Harmful Traditional Practices Against Women and Children Law 2001 (Including Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting) held in Ebonyi state from September 8 – 11, 2015
OBJECTIVES OF THE ACTIVITY
- To raise community awareness on the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C).
- To build capacity of participants to become advocates of FGM.
- To create awareness of the existence and contents of the Ebonyi State Law on the Abolition of Harmful Traditional Practices Against Women and Children and Guidelines on how to use the Law.
- To promote Community behavioral change initiatives towards elimination of FGM/C in Ebonyi State.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF ACTIVITY PROCEEDINGS
The Sensitisation programme took place in four Local Government Areas namely: Afikpo North, Ohaukwu, Ebonyi and Ikwo respectively. In attendance were the traditional rulers, Community Leaders, Religious Leaders, Women Leaders, Youths, FGM Survivors, Health Workers and representatives of the Ministry of Women Affairs. A total of 359 (Men – 94, Women – 183, Boys – 30, Girls 52) people were sensitized in Ebonyi state.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of CIRDDOC welcomed the participants to the sensitisation and highlighted the dangers of female genital mutilation. She stressed the need to refrain from the practice which endangers the health of women. According to her, female genital mutilation is one of the causes of maternal mortality because some women in Ebonyi state are known to have been cut during pregnancy. The repercussions could be deadly. Finally, she enjoined the participants to listen attentively during the presentations and participate actively. She wished them fruitful deliberations.
There was an overview of the FGM project during which participants were informed of a survey carried out by UNFPA Consultants which revealed a high prevalence of FGM/C in some Local Government Areas of Ebonyi state. The result of the survey necessitated the selection of the pilot LGAs for the project. They were informed of the harmful effects of FGM/C and advised to abandon it since it has no benefit.
At this juncture, the CIRDDOC trained Champions against FGM were introduced to the participants. They were informed that the Champions have embarked on household discussions in the communities in order to create more awareness on the need to abandon FGM. The opinion leaders in attendance were encouraged to support the Champions and ensure sustainability.
Presentations were made on “How FGM contributes to the incidence of Maternal Mortality”, “Overview of the Ebonyi State Abolition of Harmful Traditional Practices Against Women and Children Law and Guideline on how to use the law”
The last presentation was on the “Role of individuals, families and communities in the dissemination of information on the law and the protection against and prevention of FGM” Participants worked in groups after which they came up with the following:
- The traditional rulers condemned FGM/C and promised to punish those who engage in such practices in their communities.
- The traditional rulers also made commitments to encourage their colleagues in other communities to abandon FGM/C.
- Traditional Birth Attendants promised to stop the practice and join in creating more awareness on the dangers of FGM.
- There was a call for the review of Ebonyi State Abolition of Harmful Traditional Practices Against Women and Children Law by the State House of Assembly to increase the fine from N2,000 to N100,000.
- Survivors of FGM/C shared their experiences on how FGM has affected them negatively and urged other participants to stop the practice.
- SBCC materials were disseminated as supportive tools for behavioural change.
ACHIEVEMENTS/OUTPUTS OF THE ACTIVITY
- Created more awareness on the dangers of FGM/C.
- Gained the support of men who are now against the tradition of mutilating the girl-child because of its inherent danger.
- Created awareness on the existence and contents of the law against FGM.
- Distribution of copies of the law on the abolition of Harmful Traditional Practices and FGM/C.
- Gained support of the community leaders for the champions against FGM.
- Increased knowledge on how to report cases of FGM/C to the appropriate quarters.
- Created awareness on organisations to be contacted for assistance.
- New alliances against FGM/C with existing groups e.g. village meetings, age grades, youth forums and churches.
The elimination of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting requires the active involvement of all stakeholders. A sustained sensitisation will help to achieve behavioural change especially at the grassroots on the elimination of FGM. Activities geared towards the abandonment of FGM/C should be incorporated into existing platforms such as age grades, women’s meetings etc.