Youths in Oyo State are rising to the occasion to fight female genital mutilation, which is very high in the state when compared to the national prevalence rate of 20 per cent.
The practice is rooted in cultural beliefs and myths.
Previous efforts made to eradication this harmful practice have primarily targeted women, but total eradication will depend on engaging men because Nigeria is patriarchal, experts say.
With support from the UNFPA, Youthhub Africa partnered with Onelife Initiative to organise a two-day training on eradicating female genital mutilation eradication in Oyo State.
This was part of the activities to commemorate 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.
The training hosted 35 young men from Ona-Ara and Oluyole local government areas at Ibadan Business School, Bodija, Ibadan.
Lead facilitators at the training were the Oyo State FGM coordinator, Mrs B.O. Olawoyin; the executive director of Youthhub Africa, Rotimi Olawale and the executive director of Onelife Initiative, ‘Sola Fagorusi.
The Oyo State chapter of Young Men Network against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence was inaugurated after the training.
While facilitating the session on “Harmful Effects of FGM,” Olawoyin explained that “men have, many times, acknowledged and complained about the negative impact of FGM on their sexual relationship with their female partners.”
She further corroborated the need for men to support ending FGM as they also share in the consequences.
Health consequences of FGM, according to her, include genital tissue swelling, urination problems, chronic genital infections, menstrual problems, amongst others.
In Ona-Ara Local Government Area of Oyo State, the prevalence of FGM is still worrisome.
During the sensitisation carried out by the newly inaugurated Young Men’s Network, a barber argued passionately that the main reason why there were cases of unplanned pregnancies among young girls was that FGM was not being done on all of them.
This opinion was countered with the fact that there is always a boy or man responsible for the pregnancy.
The media and environment also expose adolescents to inappropriate sexual information which may lead to early sexual debut.
For instance, a mother had her one-year-old daughter mutilated. It was her fourth daughter, and her reason for doing this to all her daughters was to prevent the girls from being promiscuous.
Olawale facilitated the inauguration of the Young Men Network against sexual and gender-based violence. He says the network operates in 17 states to engage young men to join the fight against all forms of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
Olaoye Abiodun was elected the state coordinator, supported by Azeez Afeez and Olatunde Olumide as the secretary and programs manager respectively.
Raheem Olatunbosun and Adebayo Ibrahim were also elected as the local government coordinators of the group for Oluyole and Ona-Ara LGAs respectively.
SaharaReporters, New York