The menace of female genital mutilation in Nigeria calls for public concern yet, such practice prevails in some regions of the world, that triggers idealmedhealth team to have this on this platform.
For protecting her daughters from the archaic and outlawed tradition of circumcision, Chiemelie Ezeobi writes on the mental torture, physical abuse, abduction and even rape a mother recently went through in Lagos
A mother’s love they say surpasses all and can best be described by how a hen guards its chicks jealously from any potential threat.
The same applies to a young mother of three, Mrs. Bello (first name withheld), who is currently embroiled in the battle of her life to protect her two daughters from the hands of an archaic tradition.
Her attempt to prevent her daughters from being subjected to the outlawed tradition of female genital mutilation in Nigeria (FGM) has seen her go through the worst kind of torture; from mental and physical abuse to abduction and then rape at the hands of her abductors.
With civilization, many cultures were either modified or dropped in their entirety. Cultures like killing of twins, prohibiting kids from eating meat and so many others were eradicated but not FGM, which still exists in some communities.
The reason for the global stand against FGM is the dangers it poses to the victims. From severe pains caused by lack of anaesthesia, to shock, excessive bleeding, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and even death.
In this 21st century where FGM has been outlawed in so many societies, the same is still being practiced in some supposed civilized states in Nigeria. It is therefore shocking that despite the fact that the National Assembly has passed a bill to criminalize female genital mutilation in Nigeria, the practice still holds sway, thus promoting the lack of enforcement to the front burner.
Going down memory lane narrating what led to her entire ordeal she said, “I got married to a tribe in Auchi, Edo State that believes in female circumcision. When I got married to my husband, my mother-in-law told me that once I give birth to a girl that she would be circumcised. I thought it was a joke.
“I even told her that practice was out of fashion but she insisted that since her husband was a cleric it must be done, adding that she did it to her own daughter. As fate would have it, I had two girls and a boy.
“For a long time, nobody brought it up until recently when my mother-in-law called me that it was time since my daughter has clocked 10. We had a big fight and she said if the circumcision isn’t done, people will look down on her in the village but I didn’t budge. I tried to be polite as possible.
“She then involved one of my husband’s uncles, a prominent man and when I also refused, he said they never knew I was this stubborn when they married me.”
Bello further said that things went downhill from there, adding that one day, the said uncle drove to her street and physically tried to take her daughter. She said, “While we were struggling for my daughter, he injured me. At that point, I reported the matter to the police station but he knew his way around because he is quite influential.
“I still reported the case but nothing came out of it and they didn’t give me any protection. Yet, I still refused to allow my daughter go through that. The knives used aren’t even sterilised.” She noted that when all attempts to get her to give up her kids failed, it was then the abduction and subsequent rape occurred.
For refusing to subject her 10-year-old daughter to the practice, Bello was recently abducted and raped in the gang’s hideout at Ajah, before she narrowly escaped.
She said, “On May 14, 2018, after I had dropped my kids at school, I was on my way to the market when I noticed a car that kept following me. At a point, I even thought they would hit me but they just double crossed me and surrounded my car. They were about four men.
“They opened my door, pointed a gun at me and then took me away. They blindfolded me too. We got a point and they came down from the car and took me through a bushy area. We walked for a while; about 3km. I could count that because I am a runner. Meanwhile, I kept hearing them say this is the woman. She is stubborn. We will show her.
“They took me to their hut. It was hot and smelly. They kept me there for a day with no water or food. I kept asking for my offence but got no answer. I was afraid something will happen to me because they were all men. In the night, they removed my blindfold and I got slapped because again I asked what my offence was.
“That night, I was raped violently. I was fortunate that only one man raped me. The next morning, they gave me water and left me in the smelly hut. I was just praying to God. The next night, I didn’t know who they were talking to on the phone but they were on the phone for a long time.
“They kept telling the person on the other end that my kids were not with me. At the same time, they were asking me where my kids were. At that point, I didn’t know exactly who they were talking to but I could guess.”
On how she managed to escape that night she said, “That same night, they tied me up with a rope before they went to sleep. They didn’t know the rope was not tight enough. I tried and wriggled free but they didn’t wake up because they were drunk .
“I walked for a long time till I got to a hut. When I entered, I saw an old man with a hunting gun. I woke him up and told him that I was running from some bad men. He locked the door and I stayed there that night. In the morning, he brought out his scooter and drove me to Ajah express. He then stopped a taxi for me.
“Meanwhile, I took my phone as I was running from my abductors. I then called my husband and he met me at the estate gate to pay the taxi man. After I had taken my bathe, we left for the court to start off the case because my husband had already gone to the police to complain about a missing person.
“Meanwhile, I was taken to the hospital for a checkup and then given some drugs because the rapist wasn’t protected. My husband also went to the police station to report that I have been found.”
In her plea for help, Bello called on the government, civil and human right organisations, as well as the police to step into her case and expedite justice for her, and at the same time, remove the burden of fear over her.
To the government she charged them to look into the nefarious practice of female circumcision and back it up with enforcement adding that although the government keeps saying they have abolished it, it’s still in practice.
She also called on human right bodies to come to her aid and save her daughters from their father’s people, adding that the police have thus far treated her case with levity with no arrests made so far. you might like to check this out about our recent article on female genital mutilation
The seeming inaction of the police has again raised questions on their role. This is because the police should, ordinarily, be a first resort for citizens who are in danger. In this case, however, the victim said she got no protection after she reported the physical abuse and even after she was abducted.