Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation in Nkarasi1&2 of Ikom L.G.A of Cross River State Nigeria, Safehaven International, Nigeria
Safe haven’s organisational goal is to challenge violence anywhere we see it, with a focus on protecting women and girls. The idea for the FGM/C project originated as a result of the considerable success of high level of community support and trust through other projects executed in the community. Our organization has as one of its cardinal objectives a desire to end violence against women. We therefore see the subjection of young girls to the painful exercise of FGM without seeking their consent as violence against them which we have to fight against.
The overall objective of this project was to develop a participatory approach for sustainable empowerment of women to campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM) and to discourage communities from this practice, through advocacy, research, community mobilization, media awareness campaign, trainings and designing of a restructured rite of passage curriculum to redefine the culture without actual cutting of the clitoris..
Main Strategies employed:
“Our main strategy involved dialogue and knowledge creation. As pointed out earlier on, women associated FGM with religious injunction, and being that Nigeria is a very religious nation, we had to study the texts of the bible with women, for them to understand that they have not ‘violated’ any biblical injunction when they refuse FGM. This way we created knowledge and persons who will help spread the message to discourage abuse under the guise of religion. Knowledge of course creates empowerment. Women and girls now use this new body of knowledge to empower others who did not benefit from this training, thereby creating a body of indirect beneficiaries willing to support our work. People can only contribute to redefine culture when they themselves understand it.
There is a Law against early child marriage and FGM/C prohibition in Cross River State, which a lot of people have never heard of but with this project, awareness campaigns on the Law was made and hence increased knowledge. The project therefore had an opportunity to be supported by the existence of a law that prohibits FGM/C in the state. Policy makers and religious leaders were trained in order to show support and also become empowered to speak out against FGM/C.” (ref: SWG Evaluation questionaire)
Project Outcomes: The Campaign against Female Genital Mutilation achieved some of its goals. The project printed hand-bills with messages condemning FGM and widely circulated to all beneficiaries at the workshop. Some of the perpetrators have also been linked to other sources of livelihood which, according to them, is the major reason for engaging in the practice.
However, FGM which is rooted in patriarchy and culture is difficult to change –also the targeted beneficiaries were too many. It is therefore to carry out an effective evaluation of outcome.
Below see a poster and leaflet from their campaign.