INTER-AFRICA Committee, IAC-Nigeria, an affiliate of IAC-Africa region, has taken steps to discourage female genital mutilation and other traditional practices affecting the health of women and children.
The organisation recently organised a five-day seminar in Lagos to train youths from eight states as peer educators on the essence of discouraging female genital mutilation.
The organisation said it aimed at eliminating harmful traditional practises that impinge on the reproductive health, right and well being of women and the girl-child through advocacy, social mobilisation, empowerment, information and workshops.
Speaking with the Nigerian Compass, its Executive Director, Mrs Oyefunsho Orenuga, said that the organisation was establised in February 1984, after a seminar in Dakar, Senegal with its headquarters in the premises of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
She said: “ IAC-Nigeria was inaugurated on May 31, 1985 through the efforts of Dr Irene Thomas. She served faithfully as the President and Executive Director until she passed on in 2005.
“IAC applies a multi-dimension approach to influence policy and action and to create positive attitudinal change through the implementation of projects at the community level.”
In its determined efforts to discourage female genital mutilation, the organisation has embarked on sensitisation programmes at the grassroots through research, production and distribution of promotional materials like face caps, T-shirts, posters and fliers among others. Besides female genital mutilation, the organisation also campaigns against child marriage, teenage pregnancy, violence against women, widowhood rights and rites, unhygienic delivery practises, nutritional taboos, tribal marks and body scarification, among others.
The Information Officer, Miss Feyikemi Fella, said that the programme was sponsored by a United Kingdom-based organisation, Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development (FORWARD) through Sigrid Rausing Trust.
She added that it was an interactive session that enabled the participants to ask questions and learn more about what is expected of them as peer educators.
Some of the participants spoke with the Nigerian Compass.
Miss Teniola Akinyemi, a Biochemistry graduate of Lagos State University, said that the seminar discussed in details the meaning of the concept of mutilation, effects and the associated dangers.
She said: “I learnt so much from the training. The knowledge I have gained and the skills I have acquired will equip me to preach against these unwholesome acts. I have also learnt about some leadership skills that will enable me to facilitate any programme that I am organising to enlighten the people.”
On the implications of mutilations, Miss Akinyemi said that the experience was traumatic, especially as some of victims bleed to death while others experience painful sex.
She added: “It can also result into urine retention which can damage the bladder, painful menstruation, and sexually transmitted diseases from the unsterilised instruments used by the quacks that handle it. I shall visit the general hospitals, especially children wards and the ante-natal departments to enlighten the patients on the need to avoid these harmful practices.”
Miss Tolu Bisi-Adeniyi, a graduate of Kaduna State University, spoke on why some men will ensure their wives pass through the process of mutilation.
She said: “Some did it because they think their wives will be promiscuous, while others felt that they enjoy sex more with mutilated ladies since their organ would have been cut and stitched making it narrow to penetrate. I shall use the facebook to propagate what I have gained from this programme.
“Some of the victims have lost self-confidence and esteem. Also, the vagina is very close to the bladder, so in some cases they are wounded. I have been broadened and I want to encourage the organisers and their sponsors to continue with the crusade.”