A couple from different communities in Anambra State are currently apprehensive over alleged threats by the wife’s family to forcefully circumcise the couple’s two-year-old daughter.
Mr. Jude Edochie has cried out, saying his family was being threatened by his in-laws over his refusal have his little daughter subjected to genital mutilation.
Worried by the inherent dangers of the aftermath of female genital mutilation (FGM), he is calling on Nigerians to help save his innocent daughter, whose name is being withheld by the newspaper, from the hands of his wife’s family members who allegedly want to circumcise her to maintain some kind of family tradition.
He said all his attempts to explain to his in-laws that the practice has no medical benefits but several hazards had been rebuffed. He informed that the issue has become a subject of hot debate that is almost tearing the once peaceful family apart.
Despite the law that bans its practice, genital mutilation among female children has continued unabated, even as efforts to totally stop the practice have been unsuccessful. Female genital mutilation is an awkward cultural practice by some African tribes performed on women with hope to curtail their high sexual urge.
Much as this act, seen by many as barbaric, is frowned upon by medical and sex experts globally, some Africans rooted deep in their cultural beliefs have refused to yield to the demand of World Health Organization (WHO) that the habit be stopped.
According to WHO, “Female Genital Mutilation includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
“Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
“More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated. FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.
“FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. Female genital mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
After nearly 13 years of trying to make a law against female genital mutilation in Nigeria, the government of administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan finally outlawed the practice in 2015.
The anti-female genital mutilation law, tagged Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) 2015, was endorsed by the Nigerian Senate on May 2015.
The law also prohibits men from abandoning their wives or children without economic support.
According to the law, “a person who performs female circumcision or genital mutilation or engages another to carry out such circumcision or mutilation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding four years or to a fine not exceeding N200,000 or both.”
But till date, based on reports, no one has been convicted despite the prevalence in Nigeria.
Edochie, who said he has often been threatened by his in laws, said he was forced to cry out knowing that the family remains adamant about the act. He expressed how he felt insecure and emotionally traumatised since the persistent threat on the issue began last year.
The father of two, who hails from from Njikoka Local Government area and whose wife is from Ndemili Local Government Area of Anambra State, averred that his wife travelled home to her village sometime in early September 2018 to visit her aged mother and has been pressurized since then to give up her two-year old daughter for circumcision.
The practice, according to him, is widely carried out by some families in that area of Anambra State. Though on paper it has been outlawed, he informed that residents there still carry it out, as they believed it is part of their culture and tradition. Besides, it is believed that the practice preserves ladies and curtails their libido, thereby keeping them chaste.
Edochie stated, in a petition written by his lawyer, Ime Sampson, on January 7, and addressed to the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, that the person allegedly spearheading the crusade is an uncle to his wife (name withheld). He said the man has threatened to use any means to make sure the granddaughter of his late brother, Chief Gilbert Egbuna, is circumcised as all other girls before her who come from that family lineage.
Edochie said he and his wife had resisted the intimidation and also told the family in clear terms that because of their education and Christian belief, they would not succumb and submit their daughter for such barbaric practice.
“Our client and his wife further informed us that sometime in early December of 2018, the same uncle, in company with other unsavoury looking characters, visited their residence in Lagos and they were in shock as to know how he managed to locate them. He said that during this visit, the issue was raised again, and the man final response was, when the time comes, he would take the little girl and there would be nothing our client or her husband would do about it,” the petition read in part.
The man averred that he now lives in fear for his daughter’s life, especially now that the larger family and, perhaps the whole community, knows where the family resides and that her daughter could be kidnapped for the purpose of fulfilling this barbaric, historical act of mutilation.
The accused uncle was called on his mobile line so as to get his side of the story, but on every occasion, the line was either switched off or it was unreachable.
The lawyer to the couple, Sampson, said though female genital mutilation had been outlawed, many rural dwellers who are firm believers of the practice are not aware of it and are yet to understand that the practice has no health benefits for girls and women.
He added that many are dying silently, as it is quite hard to condemn or report family members who are usually the culprits of female genital mutilations.
He said to get people involved convicted is a difficult task due to nature of Nigeria’s society.
“It will be difficult for one to take anyone to court because of how closely knitted our society is. We must do more in terms of bringing about behavioural change,” Sampson said,