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Radio Callers Reveal the Need for Awareness of FGM and Medicalisation, Abakaliki, Nigeria

 By Dr. Wilberforce Oti,

Dr. Wilberforce Oti is an end-FGM campaigner. Here Wilberforce shares radio show conversations and interesting questions callers phone in to ask about FGM on Salt FM Radio Abakaliki, Nigeria. 

Resource Persons (Radio Panelist):  

  • Professor Johnson Obuna: Professor of Medicine- Medical Director, National Fistula Center, Abakaliki, Nigeria
  • Prof Wilberforce Oti: Religious Leader/Educationist and end-FGM Activist
  • Pastor Rosemary Wilberforce Oti… Clergy and Medical Laboratory Scientist and end-FGM Activist
  • Ms. Beatrice Echiegu end-FGM Activist (Survivor)
  • Chika Igwe… Broadcaster and end FGM Media Activist

Pre-activity Meeting:

A Pre-activity meeting was held to review the end FGM activities done in the past. Meaningful contributions based on the feedback of similar activities such as

  1. Using a mixture of English and local language so that most of the audience in the rural areas can understand fully what I’d being advocated.
  2. Need to reach out to Village Chiefs and Paramount Rulers of the community who are the custodian of tradition and culture
  3. The emerging problem of the medicalization of FGM as a major concern in our recent time.
  4. Need to synergize with NGOs on a similar mission to amplify our voice
  5. Topics to be discussed on the radio were outlined

The Main Activity:

The programme started at 12..00noon on the dot. All the Resource Persons were in attendance and we were all ushered into the live studio of the radio station EBBC.  Chika Igwe moderated the one-hour phone-in programme. Different questions were answered by different persons:

Prof Johnson Obuna treated questions such as 

"What is FGM and what are immediate and distant adverse effects of FGM on a girl child?"

Prof Wilberforce Oti answered questions such as 

"What is the Bible and other religious groups wrote concerning FGM? Does God approve the practice in His Holy book?"

Pastor Rosemary Wilberforce Oti treated questions such as 

"What has been done to abolish the practice of FGM in Nigeria and what are measures churches and mosques can apply to mitigate FGM in Nigeria?"

Ms. Beatrice Echiegu answered questions related to 

"practical experience of survivor and mother's perceptive on FGM?"

Prof Wilberforce Oti treated questions such as 

"What are the roles our government, royal traditional rulers, religious bodies such as the churches, schools, birth attendants and midwives, etc should play to endFGM."

After 38 minutes, the phone line was opened and calls began to come in. We received a total of 10 calls within the program, even though after the radio program the calls kept coming. 

Caller interactions:

  • One of the callers encouraged us to do more than speaking on the radio and engage the villagers in a direct face-to-face conversation.
  • Another caller told us to reach out more to traditional rulers whose views shape the mindset of the masses at the grassroots.
  • Another encouraged us to keep holding such educated programs regularly until many people buy into our advocacy. 
  • Another caller encouraged us to use the village structures and engage men who once they buy into this, will use their position and stop all their children from undergoing FGM.

What is New?

It was discovered that some people believe that: 

  1. As long as the person that performed the FGM is a nurse or midwife that FGM is ok. Hence medicalisation of FGM is a new challenge gradually coming up in this part of our country.
  2. A better way to remove the clitoris is to massage it with vaseline and the people think that it is not FGM as long as there is no cutting. Hence ignorance of type 3 FGM is prevalent here as well

Challenges

  1. The program was shifted for a day by the radio station based on a clash with another program
  2. The playing of the jingle commenced few days after the program based on logistics
  3. The Resource Persons from House Assembly who was to cover the State legislation concerning FGM was unavoidably absent.

Recommendations

  • In addition to the media campaign, there is a need for us to organise outreach for traditional rulers in the rural areas where FGM is prevalent for significant impact.
  • There is a need to emphasize more on medicalisation of FGM as it is currently replacing the crude cutting process

Media Target

The 60 minutes phone-in program in Ebonyi Broadcasting Service (EBBC) can reach 10 million listeners in 13 States of our Nation. We also wish to use social media and amplify the activities

Conclusion

On behalf of Brand New Me Resources, we wish to appreciate GMC and UNDP for giving us the platform and opportunity to express ourselves as activists. Thank you so much!

Ruth Harley

Ruth Harley is an opera singer, writer, and creative. She is running The Women’s Vinyl Project which empowers women and girls through singing and music. She is working with GMC as the Website News Editor, compiling stories written by End FGM campaigners working with the Global Media Campaign to End FGM across Africa.