For protecting her daughters from the outlawed tradition of circumcision, Mrs Olajide talks about the mental torture, physical abuse and abduction recently happened in Akute area of Ogun State.
A mother’s love they say surpasses all and can best be described by how a hen guards its chicks jealously from any potential threat.
The same applied to Mr. and Mrs. Olajide’s family (first name withheld), who is currently embroiled in the battle of their life to protect their two daughters from the hands of the tradition of circumcision.
Trouble started when the Olajides attempted to prevent their daughters from being subjected to the outlawed tradition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by their relatives. This has resulted in they going through the worst kind of torture: from mental and physical abuse to abduction at the hands of their relatives who their two daughters cannot escape the circumcizer’s knife.
With civilisation, many cultures were either modified or dropped in their entirety. Cultures like killing of twins, prohibiting kids from eating meat and so many others were eradicated but not FGM, which still exists in some communities.
The reason for the global stand against FGM is the dangers it poses to the victims. From severe pains caused by lack of anaesthesia, to shock, excessive bleeding, transmission of I incurable such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and even death.
In this 21st century where FGM has been outlawed in so many societies, the same is still being practiced in some supposed civilised states in Nigeria. It is therefore shocking that despite the fact that the National Assembly has passed a bill to criminalise FGM and government campaign against it, the practice still holds sway. This is traceable to lack of enforcement of the against FGM.
In the beginning
Going down memory lane narrating what led to their entire ordeal Mrs Olajide said, “I got married to a man from a tribe in Ifaki Ekiti, Ekiti State that believes in female circumcision. When I got married to my husband, my mother-in-law told me that once I give birth to a girl that she would be circumcised. I thought it was a joke.
“I even told her that this practice was out of fashion but she insisted that since her late husband was a cleric, it must be done, adding that she did it to her own daughter. As fate would have it, I had two girls.
“For a long time, nobody brought it up until recently when i gave birth to my second daughter. My mother-in-law called me that it was time since both children are female and they are now 12 and three years respectively . We had a big fight and she said if the circumcision isn’t done, the community leaders of Ifaki would come after her, but I didn’t budge. I tried to be polite as possible.
“She then involved one of my husband’s uncles, a prominent man,called Chief Kolawole Oguntoyinbo who traveled down with some community elders when I refused. He said they never knew I was this stubborn when they married me.”
Mrs. Olajiide further explained that things went downhill when my husband came back from work adding that they almost killed him because he resisted against the circumcision of his two daughters. “While we were struggling for my daughters, they injured both of us and my husband ran away. Thank God I was able to escape too with the children by the help of the sympathisers. At that point, I reported the matter to the police station, but the police said it is a traditional issue, so we need to solve it out with them. I even told them that they wanted to kill me and my husband but the team leader, Oguntoyinbo that led them to our house knew his way around because he is quite influential.
“I still reported the case but nothing came out of it and they didn’t give me any protection. Yet, I refused to allow my daughter go through that. The knives used aren’t even sterilised.”
She noted that when all attempts to get them to give up his kids failed, her husband and her were abducted, but thank God we were able to escape. I have not set my eye on my husband since then. I don’t know where he ran to. All effort to reach him has been abortive
A plea for help
In her plea for help, Mrs. Olajide called on the government, civil and human right organisations, to look into the nefarious practice of female circumcision and back it up with enforcement, adding that although the government keeps saying they have abolished it, it’s still in practice.
She also called on human right bodies to come to her aid in searching for her husband and save her daughters from their father’s people, alleging that the police have thus far treated the case with levity with no arrests made so far.
The seeming inaction of the police has again raised questions on their role. This is because the police should, ordinarily, be a first resort for citizens who are in danger. In this case, however, the victim said she got no protection after she reported the physical abuse and even after she was abducted.
However, the police have denied that they have not taken action on the issue, claiming that they only advised the family to resolve their differences amicably.
Criminalising FGM, zero enforcement
As far back as 2002, there were talks by the Nigerian legislature to outlaw FGM and impose a two year jail term for offenders, although it allows for an option of a fine of about N40, 000 or the imposition of both a fine and incarceration of six months.
The bill was actually unanimously passed by the House of Representatives in 2001 before it was sent to the Senate to pass the bill.
Reports said the Senate was expected to conclude its deliberations on the bill in May of 2002 and then send it to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo for his assent. It is however, unclear what happened and the bill was not passed as projected.
Finally, after much delay, the Senate recently finally put words to action and passed the bill to criminalise FGM. The bill which is called ‘Violence against Persons (Prohibition)’ seeks to prohibit female circumcision or genital mutilation, forceful ejection from home and harmful widowhood practices.
Sponsored by the then Leader of the Senate, Victor Ndoma-Egba, the bill was also intended to eliminate violence in private and public life and provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims of violence, and punishment of offenders.
The bill also prohibits forced isolation, depriving persons of their liberty, economic abuse, incest, separation from family and friends, substance attack and indecent exposure, among others.
However, despite a law clearly stating the government’s position against the practice, lack of enforcement has been the bane of it. The apathy of those that should enforce this ban has been declared one of the main issues why the practice is still popular. Also, the lack of awareness of the dangers posed by FGM is another problem.
So, with the law criminalising FGM, it definitely behooves the executive to enforce the laws passed by the legislature, even as community leaders should be engaged to help raise awareness on the dangers of the age-old cultural practice.