Fight Against FGM

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)

The international Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation celebrated every year on the 6th of February is a day which was put in place by the UN to raise awareness and eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM). The theme for this year 2020 is “Unleashing Youth Power”.

  • What is female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) refers to the cutting, removing, or sewing close all or part of a girl’s or a woman’s external genitals for no medical reason. This practice is common in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade/knife or other crude objects which are most often than not unsterilized. According to statistics from the World Health Organisation, 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.These girls are cut between infancy that is before the age of 5 to about 15 years with procedures varying according to the country or ethnic group. Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures or methods that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. This procedure has no health benefits for girls and women. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and is a form of gender based violence against girls/women.

  • PROCEDURE

This practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. In some communities, health care providers perform FGM due to the erroneous belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized. The procedures differ according to the country or ethnic group. It includes the following types; removal of the clitoral hood and clitoral glands; removal of the inner labia; and removal of the inner and outer labia and the closure of the vulva. The WHO strongly urges health professionals not to perform such procedures.

It is a violation of the rights of children since it is mostly carried out on children.The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and sometimes the right to life when the procedure results in death.

  • CONSEQUENCES

FGM has no health benefits, but it harms girls and women in so many ways. As a matter of fact, risks increase with the different procedures and it has so many complications both in the long and short run.

Immediate complications/ consequences can include:

  • Severe pain
  • Excessive bleeding (haemorrhage)
  • Genital tissue swelling
  • Fever
  • Infections like tetanus
  • Urinary problems
  • Wound healing problems
  • Injury to surrounding genital tissue
  • Shock
  • Death in some cases.

Long-term consequences can include:

  • Psychological problems (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, etc.)
  • Urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections)
  • Vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections)
  • Menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.)
  • Sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction due to no sexual feeling, etc.)
  • Increased risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, etc.) and newborn deaths.
  • Need for later surgeries: for example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening (type 3) needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth (deinfibulation). Sometimes the genital tissue is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing both immediate and long-term risks;

From all the above-mentioned complications and consequences, Bridgers Association calls upon us all (the public) to join us to fight this ill and stamp out this malpractice from our society. We strongly stand against this practice as it violates goals 3, 5, and 10 (good health and wellbeing, gender equality and reduced inequalities respectively) of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN. We join our voices with the WHO, the UN and other organisations in the world to fight against this. We are out to sensitize the public and raise awareness on the complications involved with this practice and the need to end it as soon as possible.

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Gender Based Violence: A Curse To Development

Gender Based Violence targets men, women, young boys and young girls. However, our focus here shall be women and young girls who are the most vulnerable. Violence against women can be defined as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life” (Source: United Nations General Assembly, 1993, Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women).

This is a major public problem and a violation of women’s human rights and this violence is of many diverse types. Violence in the workplace, violence in the home and violence sexually by the male partners in the home just to name but a few. Gender based violence negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. According to the global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. One of the most common type of this GBV is intimate partner violence with worldwide reports showing that almost one third of women who have been in relationships report that they have experienced some form of physical and\or sexual violence with their partners.

 This issue of gender based violence is very common in Cameroon as women experience high levels of discrimination. The United Nations has on several occasions expressed concern about the lack of progress made by the Government of Cameroon in reforming laws and combating practices that discriminate against women and girls and violate their human rights. There is no special law dealing with this violence in Cameroon as domestic violence continues to be seen as a private matter by law enforcement officials. As there is no special law dealing with domestic violence, just a few victims of this type of violence have to file a complaint under the assault provisions of the Penal Code. Of which most often than not are not considered.

 We at Bridgers want to raise awareness on GBV, it is a bad practice with so many negative effects as seen above. In order to stop this practice, the change has to begin with us.

  • Regarding all individuals as equals no matter their gender is the first step.
  • Respecting all forms of human rights and acknowledging that it is a right for all humans and not just “some”.
  • Knowing that it starts from the home, we should teach our sons to respect and value women, and stop discrimination while raising children.
  • Promote human solidarity and avoid indifference.

Together we can bring the change we all need in our society. From the Zulu term, “Ubuntu” meaning “humanity” which further translates as “I am because we are”. We can build a better world. It begins with me, it begins with you, it begins now.