The University of Uyo Women Association (UWA) has supported the call for stiffer laws against rape and criminal abortion, saying it would reduce the prevalence of obstetric fistula in Nigeria.
The President of UWA, Mrs. Rosalyn Essien, wife of the Vice Chancellor of the institution frowned against rape, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation among others, saying they contribute to vesico-vaginal fistula.
Speaking on Tuesday in Itu while presenting food items, toiletries and rechargeable disinfectant spray to the Family Life VVF centre to mark the 2020 International Day of the Girl Child, Essien said the gesture was to support women who had to undergo painful fistula surgery in order to correct the anomaly.
She called for sustained sensitization against rape and other sexual vices against women, saying women should speak up.
She added that women need proper health care especially during delivery to avoid VVF.
“Today we have decided to celebrate with the women to inform the public that we are against rape, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation because when women go through female genital mutilation, they are bound to come to VVF, especially when they are putting to bed.
“And then when our boys sexually harass our girls through gang rape or any form of sexual abuse, they are bound to come to the VVF centre. We are to inform the public that the women have to speak.
“So when we speak, they would hear us and we then we will see how to address some of these issues in our society. Most women have these issues when they are putting to birth.
“So they need proper health care when putting to birth so that they would not destroy themselves. When they destroy themselves, the men would run away.
“That is why the University women are here to celebrate with other women. We have given them disinfectant machine to help disinfect the place during this post COVID-19 era, food items, and toiletries,” she stated.
Essien commended the Matron in Charge of the centre for her good work and recalled that the University of Uyo, led by Prof. Enefiok Essien, gave Dr Ann Ward, a Post humor Honoury Award during the University’s 25th Convocation ceremony last year for establishing the centre.
In here response, the Matron in-Charge, Sister Sylvia Ndubuaku, lauded the association for the donation, saying VVF has devastated the lives of many women, particularly those from poor homes.
She stated that abdominal surgeries, female genital mutilation, Illiteracy, hazardous traditional practices, child marriages, and criminal abortions are the major cause of VVF in the society.
She said the education of the girl child was important to fight VVF, noting that the centre trains and empowers its patients to be self reliance, and urged men to desist from deceiving women in the name of love.
She said, “My heart is full of joy because the University of Uyo Women have remembered the down trodden, for trying to give voice to the girl child and are here today to mark it.
“The Medical Missionaries of Mary sisters are very grateful, Uyo Diocese who we are working under are very grateful, the staff of Family Life/VVF Hosiptal are very grateful.
“What you have presented here today is already been shared among the women. Some of the women you see here have been here for years and will continue to remain until we equip them. It is until we have empowered them that we can send them away.
“VVF has not gone. It is still here, that is why we have women that are thinking of how to help other women. If we join our voices to cry, as long as humans contribute, VVF will be eradicated.
“As long as have women who are suffering from the trauma of VVF, we know there are people who care. If you listen to the testimonies of some of them, you would hear the number of times many of them have attempted suicide because of negligence and the way society has stigmatized them.
“Many girls aged 11-15 in the country become victims of VVF through accidental pregnancy which caused most of them to experience obstructed labor.
“Majority of the cases are attributed to prolonged complicated labour which arises as a result of narrow pelvis bones of victims due to inaccessibility of adequate and immediate obstetric health care.
“VVF is not only extremely painful but also uncomfortable. It is one of the most dehumanizing afflictions of women support the centre”.
Sister Ndubuaku further appealed to other public spirited organisations and well-to-do individuals to emulate the kind gesture of UWA by supporting inmates of the centre.
The International Day of the Girl Child had the theme, “My Voice, Our Future”.