FGM: Clay and herbs

“Clay and herbs shoved inside before being sewn up?” Confused, so I asked, “What’s the purpose of that?”

“To help with healing process.” Lizzy replied.

The use of clay for medicinal purposes is well documented but if one has to live with clay ‘up there’ for years – unbelievable.

A few years ago a friend came to Lizzy to ask for professional advice as she was getting ready to marry. Lizzy was amazed to learn her friend was mutilated years ago and also that she has a clay to be removed before her big day. Traditionally in Lizzy’s friend part of Senegal, herbs and clay were inserted after mutilation to help with healing process, then the area sewn back leaving enough room for urine and period.

Like Senegal, Nigeria is very diverse, lots of traditions are only known within the tribe folks.

Up until I was 18 years old, I only knew of Type I form of circumcision, I had assumed, this was the only type across the country, usually performed when the girl is days old so no real memory of the event. This was until I witnessed Tanwa being mutilated at 10, later learned that was the custom for her part of Yorubaland and it’s done just before puberty. Tanwa’s  story here

Incredible seeing many women who have been through the worse form of FGM coming out to share their stories in order to raise awareness especially those women who had to be reopen for marriage and for child births.

2:30 of the above UN video sums religious influence across Africa today. While FGM has been illegal since 2009 in Senegal, local people listen to their Imam who by the way has all his body parts intact using Islam as an excuse for FGM.

It didn’t take too long to convince a grandma of the harmful practice that is FGM – she has seen it all and perhaps just happy that the truth is now in the open in 3:5.

Given the diverse ethnic group in Nigeria, it was not too surprising that infibulation is practiced in the north especially among the Fulani and again using the same religious excuse.

Here I come again with Nigeria church with Mission House attached, the need to be involved in raising awareness on this important cause is high given many people seek approval from their religious leaders on issues. A child died in my town a few years ago at the church during circumcision performed by the Mission Mother against the father’s wish. 

Dr Momoh’s speech at FGM event was inspiring but I was left with another puzzling question regarding the list of other forms of child abuse facing girls in Africa which were primarily driven by ignorance.

So I turned to sideways to Lizzy, “Breast ironing?”  In Cameroon – this is done by mothers as a way to delay puberty so their girls don’t sleep around? 

So help me God.