Modern Day Practices Of Female Genital Mutilation: Culture, Voodoo Or Both?

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I never thought in this 21st century barbaric acts as female circumcision is still a “thing”.

I thought that’s a thing long past until I heard a story recently. After hearing it, I thought it to be an isolated story, however I decided to do a little investigation and to my greatest shock more horrific stories were beginning to reveal.

Stories where families are even being threatened by their “kins” over the circumcision of their females children who have “come of age”.

This coming of age ceremony is believed to be in the best interest of the girl, as they say it would help her mature into womanhood.

What is female genital mutilation or female circumcision?

It simply involves the excision of the clitoris. However, as simply as it may sound, it is a very painful and traumatic procedure.

I decided to go to the village to ask my grandmother about it and she told me it was done to help curtail promiscuity on the part of the girl.

To my greatest surprise she revealed that, same was done to her, my mother and my sister. She couldn’t help but stress the importance of female circumcision, however I told her of the risks involved and it being prohibited by law.

Her response however shocking didn’t come as a surprise saying, “what law is bigger than the traditional laws of the land”.

I decided to talk to my sister but it seemed she made a conscious effort to subdue any memory of such ever happening. Telling me she never wants to talk about it nor can she remember what or how it happened. But I will never forget the look in her eyes and on her face when she said it.

I could see decade long pain. I felt very sorry for her wondering the trauma she would have and is still through.

My investigation led me to more stories, about circumcision though prohibited by World Health Organization(WHO), Nigeria federal laws and some states, however it is still happening in the rural areas.

Female circumcision was on the decline in the past two decades however, with the increase in the rate of teen pregnancy, the practice is beginning to regain momentum and relevance again as locals believes it is for the best interests of the female as they remain adamant that it help reduce promiscuity in the female.

Some families see it as a tradition that must be respected so whenever a teenager(female) comes of age their is a call from the kins in the village to bring the child for circumcision.

I was told of the story of a family that refused the calling of their kins and threats of incoming doom for years and after awhile misfortunes hit the family.

The father lost his job, their house got gutted by fire all in the space of a very short period and the misfortune was traced back to the father’s refusal to bring his daughter for the circumcision rituals.

My source said after so many “downs” the man succumbed and took the child against her will to the village and she was circumcised.

In this part of the world where we believe so much in witchcraft and voodoo, i asked myself, could it be real that these people really do use diabolical means to exert “their” justice and the so-called defiant families? We know Africa and Nigeria as a hub for witchcraft(voodoo) practice and believe it or not, people do believe and fear it.

This, however, was not an isolated case as I was told of many other stories and how it’s a only such acts that can make the parents change their mind.

My investigation took me to Edo state, where I heard (to my greatest surprise) countless stories and how it is a norm and parents are advised to always bring their children for the ritual. That it is supposedly, for the benefit of the girl, as it helps to “curtail promiscuity” and helps her during childbirth.

A “school of thought” that has no scientific backing. When I asked what happens to parents that refused, they told me all sorts of evil and misfortune, making me think back to other stories I earlier heard and shared.

I was told, by a custodian who claimed anonymity, that in Irrua, a village in Esan part of Edo state, that female circumcision rite is not taken lightly. That no matter who or where you are in Nigeria, if you have a daughter that has “come of age” for circumcision, and her father is an indigene of that village by birth or name, she must be brought back to the village for the ritual.

Fleeing to another city or town is not an option as they say they have special ways of tracking those that flee. They go as far as using physical threats, not only through witchcraft(voodoo) to threaten defiant parents.

It’s seems they believe the fate of everyone in who is a member of the family and the village is tied to the circumcision of one girl as refusal brings shame, disgrace and bad luck to the family.

When asked about getting the police involved, it was laughed off, saying that the police know better than to get involved in family matter, especially one that has to do with “sacred family rites”. Astounding as it sounds, he wasn’t far from the truth, as the police rarely get involved in it such issues.

Female genital mutilation is a crime that should be punished under the law. A girl deceived to go to the village in the guise of seeing her people and is mutilated, because no one in their right senses would want to have that done to her.

Sometimes these children/teenagers are forced, whisked off to the village by their parents for such terrible acts, calling a right of passage or family ritual that is supposed to “be for the good and the girl and that family”. Leaving them emotionally, psychologically and physically traumatized.

Female genital mutilation may be unpopular to some people and most of the world in general, it however, still rears its ugly and disgusting head in some parts of Nigeria and it is still actively being practiced.

Government needs to educate people that such ugly act in unlawful and illegal and should be stopped and those caught practicing such would be persecuted.

Also, the authorities(local especially) should be made to take up cases when reported to them and not allowed to be nonchalant about it.

There are laws(WHO, Nigerian federal government and state government laws) against female genital mutilation and the consequences of breaking these laws to be fully dished to whoever breaks them.

Stop the traumatizing of our teenage girls!!!!