FGM practice dehumanising - Victim
A 25-year-old victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the Pusiga District in the Upper East Region, Salifu Nambonne Halima, has described the age-old practice meted out against young girls and women as dehumanising and barbaric.
“Going through such a barbaric act at a tender age in my life was an experience I have not been able to forget as I continue to have memories of it although I am married now” she said.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic in commemoration of this year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, she said it was very horrifying going through it below 10 years of her life.
“It was very depressing and painful for elderly men to hold me firmly, open my legs for an elderly woman to use a sharp blade to cut off the clitoris in my private part all in the name of tradition in our Zupeliga community,” she stated.
She stressed, “I remember that I was not in agreement at that tender age for it to be done to me so they gathered some people who overpowered me, which paved the way for the old woman to undertake the act”.
In Upper East, Pusiga District has about 30 per cent prevalent rate of FGM although it is equally practised in nearby districts such as Bawku Municipality, Garu and Tempane but both districts have few recorded cases of the practice.
Another development is the fact that since the practice has been criminalised , some people in the district cross over to neighbouring Togo and Burkina Faso where it is practised and return to escape from the law and stigmatisation.
She explained that in addition to the unbearable pains she went through, she bled profusely and had to go through a lot before recovering from the dastardly act perpetrated on the basis of culture.
Responding to a question if the act is having an effect on her two-year old marriage, she responded “although, I am happily married, I am not enjoying sexual intercourse as it ought to be”.
“Now, the most sensitive part of my private part has been removed, making it very difficult for me to enjoy having sex with my husband” she lamented, adding “ sometimes, I feel severe pains when having sex as a result of the act”.
She noted that since her husband was fully aware of what she went through, they resort to foreplay before having sex so that she can be in the mood to enjoy it due to the removal of her clitoris.
She called on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to partner local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to intensify public education on the practice in order to end it.
She said “this bad act has negatively affected the lives of many young and old women, especially during delivery”, noting, “even one of my friends who went through the practice and got married before me went through difficulties during childbirth due to the act”.
She called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders towards ending the menace so as to protect the dignity of women in the society.
An opinion leader in the community, Stephen Numbara, stated that it was long overdue for the practice to be stopped to protect the rights of women and female children in the area.
He said “in as much as it is done under the guise of culture and that since culture is dynamic, it had become necessary for some aspects of culture which had outlived their usefulness to be changed”.
The Executive Director of Belim Wusa Development Agency (BEWDA), a Bawku-based NGO with focus on women’s rights and other areas, Peter Asaal , said since 2006, the organisation had been embarking upon community engagement and sensitisation on the effects of FGM.
He stated “since now the perpetrators now cross-over to neighbouring countries to do it, we are now engaging our counterparts in Togo and Burkina Faso to join efforts towards preventing the act”.
Touching on the successes chalked up, he noted that the mindset of a number of the perpetrators of the act had been changed about the practice, saying, “some of them have become ambassadors preaching against the menace in the district”.