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Monday, August 30, 2010

Femal Genital Mutilation Helps Spread of HIV/AIDS

August 30, 2010
Winifred Ogbebo / Nigerian Tribune

The Chairman, Senate House Committee on Health, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo Bello, has attributed the partial spread of HIV/AIDS to female genital mutilation(FGM) especially when its done in group of girls.

He explained that since most female genital mutilation is carried out by traditional medicine men and traditional birth attendants who have no knowledge of sterilization and the basics of disease prevention, an instrument that is used on an infected girl may again be used on other girls which will aid the spread of HIV.

At the Women's Empowerment, Domestic Violence, and Female Circumcision national seminar held last week in Abuja, Senator Obasanjo- Bello said curbing FGM will eliminate a potential source of spread of HIV, adding that ending it will aid in achieving the MDGs.

Her words, "We must shine the light on this hidden ritual and talk about it openly. We must understand the thinking of the perpetuators and try and enlighten them by debunking each of their reasons for continuing this outdated and unnecessary custom. Reasons usually given for continuing the tradition include preventing promiscuity, for genital cleanliness, to safeguard virginity as well as for curing illnesses"

She added, " Why each of the reasons is illogical must be explained and the dangers associated with the practice must also be explained. Preventing FGM through education and enlightenment must become part of primary health care delivery"

In her remarks, the Ambassador of Vesico-Virginal Fistula, Nollywood actress, Stephanie Okereke, who spoke on Vesico-Virginal Fistula (VVF); Time To Curb This Menace For Good, disclosed that the philosophy and culture of traditional African societies in Nigeria that encourage child- marriage and under-age childbearing are a grand social liability that should be eliminated and replaced with decent alternatives.

She said, "VVF as a major threat to healthy and fulfilling womanhood in many parts of Nigeria does not deserve to accompany us to the future. It is a menace that should be curbed and cast into the abyss of history"

Similarly, the wife of the Zamfara State governor, Hajiya Aisha Shinkafi said that the harmful practice of child birth at home and inaccessibility to basic primary health facilities are sometimes associated with the cause of VVF as most victims are reported to give birth at home.

According to her, extensive campaigns are being carried out by religious leaders, traditional and community leaders in Zamfara State on practices that are not acceptable including female genital mutilation.

The wife of Ebonyi State governor, Mrs Josephine Elechi disclosed that since the establishment of the South East Fistula Centre by her pet project, Mother and Child Care Initiative (MCCI) in December 2008, and with the collaboration of partners, over 500 Fistula clients have been repaired.

Mrs Elechi who was represented by the wife of the deputy governor of the state, Mrs Catherine Ogu, said in order to stem the tide of new cases of obstetric fistula and reduce the burden of maternal mortality, appropriate policies are being formulated and implemented in Ebonyi State, which will require time and support to beer the desired dividend.