Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Girl Summit 2014 - Re-orientation is Imperative



After the Girl Summit  2014, what next ?
 What are the conclusions arrived at during the Summit's deliberations which need to be backed up legally and urgently ; as regards ending the harmful practices of Female Genital Mutilation and Child Forced / Early Marriages ?
By the end of the Summit, the participants were able to draw up the framework for some immediate solutions for eradicating the out-dated and harmful cultural / religious beliefs which have upheld the practice of FGM and CFEM.
Since the end of the Girl Summit 2014 some nations like the UK, have been swift to act by setting in place urgent legal reforms  to curb and eradicate these harmful practices in their own countries .
By mid October 2014,the UK government has through amendments to the Serious Crime Bill tabled in Parliament,  empowered the nation's courts with new sweeping legal reforms .
These reforms will grant the courts power to enforce new FGM protection orders to remove girls' travel papers when the courts believe that there is danger that the girls will be taken overseas to be cut , especially during the notorious "cutting season" in some countries.
 Also , the new orders in the UK have created a legal duty on parents to protect their daughters from mutilation , with the threat of prosecution if the erring parents fail to do so.


                           
Even with legal reforms in the affected countries , is it a tall dream for people to hope for the eradication of centuries of generational male fears of educated females and the generational female ignorance about the harm done to the girl-child by practising FGM and Forced Early Marriages?
In the face of stiff oppositions to change by some sections of these communities,the eradication of these harmful practices could be tall dreams indeed. 
Insurmountable challenges they might appear to be, but they are dreams which could be actualised by legal means and through re-orientation ; via mass educational campaigns, via spiritual re-births with sustained prayers.
The theme of such re-orientation campaigns should be to inform the affected people that :
1. "There is no art to know the human mind's construction" and " The apparel does not make the monk ".
There is no art , no fool-proof devices or gadgets which have been invented by Mankind which could reveal or ascertain which girls or married women have been promiscuous or which ones are prostitutes. 
Therefore FGM and CFEM are unacceptable yardsticks to measure a woman's virtue and "holiness" ; neither do these practices guarantee a woman's qualification to be " a good and faithful wife" .
2. Marriage is honourable and desirable but marriage is not the cure for prostitution or the panacea for promiscuity.
There must be changes in peoples' mentality which would enable them to realise that sexual promiscuity and prostitution are personal vices,chosen willingly by some females, for reasons best known to them; not because such girls and women did not experience FGM and Forced Early Marriages.
There are uncircumcised married women who have chosen to remain faithful to their husbands, just as there are some circumcised married women who got married as circumcised 12 year old virgins,but later in their lives,they changed and they chose to became married prostitutes.
Therefore promiscuity and prostitution are not the resultant "curses" for all uncircumcised girls neither is it correct to assume that these are the usual life-styles and "trademarks" of single girls and single women.

During the Girl Summit 2014 some of the speeches evoked laughter,while some speeches stirred up anger,disgust and pity. Some listeners were so shocked and touched by what they saw and heard, that they were reduced to tears at the enormity of the unjust and cruel practices suffered by girls and women in many areas of the world as narrated by the victims and survivors.
 It became glaring to all present at the Summit that these cruel and unjust yokes placed on the girl-child are as evil as they are discriminatory in their entirety.

                    

After the Summit ,people have been puzzled that the female population in these affected areas have failed to protest and reject the torture inflicted on them."Why have these females in these countries allowed themselves to be treated like this? Why wait for foreigners to help them? They should help themselves by organising dissent , protesting enmasse and speaking against their plight with one voice."
Also ,there have been questions about why it has taken so long for the world community to decide to intervene in their plight and too long to heed the cries for help from the victims and survivors of these two horrific crimes against girls. 
Is the rest of the world just waking up to the realization that these evil practices were happening in some parts of the world?
The reasons for the previous lack of response from the outside world could be the unpleasant experiences of people who could have tried in the past to intervene to end these practices.
Such people could have recoiled from speaking out after being accused by the very people whom they were trying to help saying,"Judge not ; that you be not judged! 
You are judging us by speaking against our culture and religion like this !"
Also,people could have been put off intervening because they were silenced by accusations such as;
 "You people are racists !"
"You have no right to tell us how to live our lives! 

Mind your own business ! "
 Therefore people who should have intervened have ,until now, indeed been minding their own business.

Today, the world needs to take a stand against FGM and Forced Child Marriage. Everyone male,female,young and old has a part to play.
There must be zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and for Child,Early and Forced Marriage because these harmful practices have imposed pain , illiteracy and backwardness on millions of vulnerable girls and women .
It is not as if these unfortunate female victims "deserve their lot because they have allowed themselves to be treated like that !"
The victims of FGM do not  choose or desire  to be "cut".
Neither do the victims of Forced Early marriage like it when they are carted off to marry strange men at the tender age of 10 years. 
 These females are victims who have no say in the matter . The females in such countries have no say, even though females form the majority percentage of the population of these affected countries.
 
These helpless victims need external intervention and international aid to be free from the burdens placed on them by their societies and by the religions into which they were born.
 Victims of Forced and early marriages are little girls who desire to live normal lives, to go to school and become trained professionals.They do not want to get married at such tender ages.They would prefer to be left alone to experience the joys of childhood , to get an education and to grow up and become well-trained and useful girls and women before they decide when to get married and to be free to choose which men they would like to marry.
 These desires are not too much to ask for ; are they ?

 In these affected countries, the girls who harbour the desires to postpone marriage and opt for the classroom could rebel by resisting and rejecting the burdens of these dual evils. When or if they rebel , the punishment for that would be their being disowned, ostracised and even murdered by their own families.
After rejection and ostracism ,victims have no place to hide and no one to turn to for help because in the countries where FGM and Forced Child Marriages are upheld as the norm, such communities usually do not have reliable legal aid or dependable law enforcement units for the protection of the victims of these evil practices .
 Neither do such places have effective Departments of Social Welfare and Victims Support Groups to help "rebelling females" find a place of refuge and solace.
Some rebellious girls have been declared "missing". 
In communities where FGM and CFEM thrive, some "missing" rebellious females have disappeared because they been murdered by members of their religion,of their race or by members of their own families .
They become "honour killing" victims to "salvage their family honour".
Some of these crimes committed in the UK ,have been concealed by a code of silence amongst the guilty immigrant communities . 
In the UK , FGM, CFEM and "honour killing" are illegal but their illegality does not stop these criminal practices from flourishing amongst those immigrant communities whose cultures and religious beliefs support the practice of these harmful and unacceptable crimes against little girls.

            
Global summits could be effective to identify and eradicate the root causes of these socio- cultural problems .
However, it would be like scratching a sleeping lion on the face if only fiscal and legal measures are put in place to solve problems without  addressing their root causes which are not physical causes only but also with spiritual implications.
 Therefore
the perpetrators of these evil practices and the unfortunate girls who have experienced these horrors are, all of them,VICTIMS who need not only "brain transplants but also"heart transplants" in the form of new spiritual hearts.
There must be a two -pronged approach,  both spiritual and physical , for mapping out enduring solutions to these two evils of FGM and Child and Forced Early Marriages.
Short of physical and spiritual "surgery",  all the Global summits , religious preaching, moral teachings and stringent laws would not be effective in stopping the practiceS of FGM and CFEM.


In the countries where these two practices thrive as their normal life-style; therein abound men, women and children who need urgent re-orientation because they have been brain-washed to accept these dual evil practices as the proper way of life for all "decent " girls and women.
The physical and spiritual solutions must be proffered as determined efforts to educate the culprits and the victims in the following ways :
1. Organise campaigns to educate the masses by shedding light on the needless ignorance and fear in these cultural settings which have perpetuated these two evils.
These  campaigns must be held for re-orientation whereby people would attain the level at which they would become aware that the practices of FGM and Forced Child Marriages are out-dated,they are evil and they are totally unnecessary.
 2. These two evil practices are firmly entrenched, especially in male -dominated societies where women and girls are regarded as second-class citizens who must  be "kept down and out" always . In such places, females are not only  "Kept down and out ", female emotions are disrespected and the opinions of females do not carried much weight . 
In male-dominated societies ,the culture of morbid fear of educated females breeds oppositions against allowing females to gain free access to formal education and gainful employment.
Some men feel threatened by the idea of granting freedom of access to formal education to females, especially to the girl-child. Access which such men know would enable females achieve literacy, good jobs and financial capabilities.
Such men are afraid that  granting females such access  would result in men "losing control" over all women who  would become enlightened and capable of rubbing shoulders with men!
3.Re-orientation of the male mentality is essential to purge the masculine phobias of educated females and the fear of uncircumcised females .
 Irrational male fear of the emergence of educated girls and of uncircumcised females has been the main reason for the entrenchment of discriminatory cultural and traditional harmful practices against females.
Men who are terrified of giving their female population the equal opportunities of becoming educated,full-fledged participating members of their communities should be imbibed with the mentality which states that:
 "For the good of all of us,we must accept that it is a big wide world with plenty of space to accommodate every body's ambitions ; including those of women and little girls!!".

Apart from educating the men to overcome their irrational phobia of educated girls; the women and the girls in those affected societies also need re-orientation .
 In order to stop perpetuating these dual evil practices , it is imperative that females , girls, wives,mothers, aunts, sisters, community leaders and female religious leaders have to become aware of  the harmful effects of FGM and CFEM.
All brain-washed and repressed females need to be enlightened about accepting their new roles as complete and useful human beings in the new  scheme of things .

 For their own good, female victims themselves need to be delivered from the evils of generational illiteracy and delivered from their life-styles of hypocritical conformity to  their societies' harmful cultural laws .
The theme of educating brainwashed and de-humanised women and girls would be to aid them to shed their  self-deprecation i.e. lack of confidence in themselves and  their own capabilities even as females .
This would instill in them the mentality about how empowered and useful an educated girl / woman would be to herself ,to her husband, her family and her country .

Women are said to be each other's worst enemies.
The re-orientation of de-humanised female minds is imperative because the facts on the ground are indicating that in the affected societies, there are millions of women and girls who have been brain-washed to the point of accepting these two harmful practices against little girls .
The brainwashing of the female population in these affected countries is completely entrenched to the extent that women and girls themselves engage in launching verbal and physical attacks against fellow girls and women who they perceive as "rebels", "prostitutes", "Jezebels" and "misfits"; because such girls and women have refused to accept and to conform to their societies' religious doctrines and cultural values which support the harmful practices of FGM and Forced Early Marriage for all girls and women .

 Women ,especially the older, illiterate women who have been brain-washed are guilty of perpetuating FGM and CFEM in the following ways which must be abandoned:
* Women are "the traditional cutters" who do the evil job of circumcising little girls in their communities.
Many of the women who take their daughters to be "cut " don't see anything wrong with it .
They think they are doing what is right for their daughters. 
* Women perpetuate the practice of Forced Child Marriage by teaching their daughters and other young girls , from infancy to believe that "getting married early is the more superior achievement than getting an education.This is the best life-style for all women!"
* Also it is women preaching as "counsellors" in religious places who see it as their religious duty to teach young girls  that FGM, Forced Early Marriages and female illiteracy are
 " God-ordained destinies for all women ".
Millions of girls who have been brainwashed to accept their fate by embracing FGM and CFM as the "responsible and decent things to do".
Therefore they have embraced the unnecessary pain of FGM and the shame of illiteracy.
After these brainwashed girls have suffered the harmful effects of FGM and CFEM ,they too would pass on the same brain-washing by teaching their own daughters and other young girls to accept such old wives' tales.
Through the teaching of such tales , the vicious circle of evil control and brainwashing has continued to flow from generation to generation of females.

 Where then is the hope for eradicating these two harmful practices if older women (and men) and religious leaders continue to believe it and to teach little girls the old wives' tales which say: 
"a decent girl's proper place and role in this life is to do as she is told by accepting the great honour and respect of female circumcision and getting married as early as possible "?
 Urgent re-orientation of all men , women and children in these countries is imperative if the harmful practices of FGM and CFEM would end in this generation. 

Nigeria  has been shown on the UNICEF map above as one of the nations where  these evil practices prevail amongst 10-25 % of the Nigerian population.
The map does not indicate its date and how these statistics were collated for Nigeria and the other nations shown .
Even in the same nation, the pervalent mentality to  female education and the practices of FGM and CFEM  are not the same amongst Nigeria's various tribes and religions.
 The facts are that in those areas of Nigeria where female education is highly valued , there are millions of parents  who are enlightened about the value of sound education for their daughters. Such parents are known for going to great lengths such as selling their houses, land , cars , clothes , jewelry, and other valuables if need be ; just  to give their children quality education.
These parents would sacrifice a lot to educate their children even up to the levels of first and second university degrees; irrespective of the sex of their children.
After hearing of the sad experiences of girls in these affected areas where FGM , CFEM and female illiteracy thrive, I apreciate my lot in life ,even more.
 I thank God for my parents and for the kind of life they gave me. They never put me and my sisters under the threat of these harmful practices .The words FGM , CFEM and enforced female illiteracy were unheard of in my family.
Growing up in Lagos,Nigeria; as children, my siblings and our childhood friends , sometimes , were disgusted and frightened to hear the sad news about unfortunate little girls who had suffered the tortures of FGM and CFEM in far, far away other parts of Nigeria. Such sad stories were to us children , indeed unimaginable  horrors inflicted on their own daughters by "weirdo parents and evil people".
By God's grace ,I was privileged to be born and bred by educated and devoted Nigerian parents who gave my six siblings and me the best and the highest education and the best standard of living which any child could ever hope and pray for. 
Always I will cherish the beautiful memory of my loving parents and all they stood for . 
For this ,I say forever," We thank you ,Lord".
I know that  nowadays, the percentage of the Nigerian population who practise these dual evils has reduced considerably ; thanks to enlightenment campaigns and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all communities.
We should pray that the same reduction in the number of victims is and will be the case in all the other nations indicated on the UNICEF map.

 In conclusion , in order to birth enduring solutions and to usher new perspectives into the mentality of the men, women and girls in these affected communities, the world should join hands to work and pray together for speedy changes there .
Please pray for all the governments and the peoples of the nations infected with these harmful evils, pray for the victims and potential victims of FGM and CFEM and pray for their oppressors who are resisting change.
May the glorious light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ shine into every area of these countries to set free the captives who are the victims and perpetrators of FGM,Child and Early Forced Marriages .
May they accept the Light of the Son of God who is the expression of God's Righteousness and Love . Amen.

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