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Killing Mummy (II)

The arguments for the preservation of this practice are as puerile as they are laughable. Its proponents argue largely that it is to prevent female…

The arguments for the preservation of this practice are as puerile as they are laughable. Its proponents argue largely that it is to prevent female promiscuity as if promiscuity is a feminine attribute. The others are that its non removal could lead to male impotence where there is a contact between it and the male organ. Another old wife fable is that children whose head touches the area at childbirth either die or are susceptible to sicknesses. Of course none of these is empirically factual.

If any part of the human organ is not useful, then it’s excision should be left in the hands of trained surgeons. Not so, traditional birth attendants, barbers and even laymen are mostly used to carry out this excision. This often leads into the brutal excision beyond the organ in question leading to life-threatening scars. According to experts, some of these scars may not show until the woman is of age and ready to deliver. With prolonged labour complications leading to the medical condition called VVF (Vesico Vagina Fistula) or RVF (Recto Virgina Fistula), which experts say lead to a jamming of either the urinary or excretion canals and subsequent uncontrolled urination or stooling. This painful condition makes sufferers emit the most odious smells. Where they are not quickly taken to a facility with the expertise to correct it, the condition could be life-threatening and mostly fatal. Equally painful is the fact that most of these women are abandoned to face instalmental death. Some are divorced while still in hospital and rendered homeless and helpless even after treatment and discharge. Some refuse to return to their natural homes as a result of the stigma. Field experts say that sometimes, the scars inflicted by the traditional cutters are so often beyond repair. With the usual disconnect between the people and proper medical practice, most patients die even before help could get to them.

This explains the need for a consistent campaign against this practice which cannot be done without moral suasion and laws prohibiting this practice. But no such law exists except in a few states. In one such state, the penalty is a mere N1,000 or one month imprisonment. This is an incentive for those engaged in it to perpetrate it with impunity. Nigeria needs to tackle this lacuna on all fronts. This crime against womanhood should attract a punishment not less than the statutory penalty for murder or manslaughter.

The cutting of young girls in their prime is a betrayal of their innocence. It should be adequately punished. It is also believed that these acts are done to enhance male dominance of the female gender. Contemporary argument favours equality of the sexes which some argue is analogous to divine doctrine, but there is no religion that practices, preaches or encourages the sacrifice of one gender to please the other. It would therefore be unfair on womanhood that we, the men whose wives, daughters and mothers are scared in this way, keep quiet.

Other nations have outlawed this practice and Nigeria should follow the examples of Senegal, Mauritania and Egypt. There are also other harmful practices in which women who escaped this in their prime have been goaded to return to it either to be acceptable in their society or as some say, to repair their genitalia damaged after series of childbirth. It is said that such repairs increases the traction for men. This is immoral, selfish and chauvinistic.

Groups working on the campaign to stop this are few and far between, but in some cases, they are known to have received stiff opposition from the monarchs of tradition and czars of religion who argue that the practice was bequeathed to them by their forebears. If our society is to protect its women and girls from having their future blighted, there must be the enlistment of custodians of tradition and religion to stop this through adequate education and enlightenment. Lawmakers in areas where these practices are endemic should also make this a campaign issue.

Government should revive its traditional ways of getting the people in the rural areas enlightened about the harmful effects of this practice. This is one sure way we can turn the heat on those who believe that extirpating this obnoxious practice demeans their personality as a people and as a race. Religious leaders should equally be in on this; after all, the essence of faith is the preservation of life and to enhance its quality. To allow this practice to continue is tantamount to killing posterity, after all, women are the reservoir of procreation; therefore respect for women’s rights is respect for the preservation of humanity itself.

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