In 2012, the UN General Assembly designated February 6th as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, with the aim to amplify and direct the efforts on the elimination of this practice. Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights, the health and the integrity of girls and women.
In Nigeria, according to the 2018 NDHS, an overall 20 percent of women aged 15-49 have been circumcised. Though decreasing, the practice is high and widespread in Nigeria despite efforts towards its eradication. Girls who undergo female genital mutilation face short-term complications such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine, as well as long-term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health.
With support from UNFPA, Stand With A Girl (SWAG) Initiative and TRU Dance Art organized a flash mob to commemorate 2022 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on the 10th of February 2022 at Wuse market, Abuja.
Prior to the scheduled time for the flash mob, youth advocates from Stand With A Girl (SWAG) Initiative engaged the people in the market on the dangers associated with FGM and the need to stop this harmful practice, 700 fliers were distributed to on lookers and passer by.
15 minutes to the scheduled time, dancers from TRU Dancers Art freestyled in the central market premises to pull the attention of the market people to their performance and draw them to the stage. This was successful as over 50 market people followed the dancers all the way to the stage where they were entertained with freestyles by the dancers.
At the scheduled time for the event, youth advocates from Stand With A Girl (SWAG) Initiative spaced the audience to create room as 20 dancers from TRU Dance Art took to the stage with intriguing dance steps to a mix of hip-hop, contemporary and afro/naija music that drew audiences to the allotted space for the event, the dancers demonstrated in a short play the items used in FGM, the misconceptions and trauma faced by victims, the need to stop FGM and the dangers associated with it, holding up placards with messages that appealed to end FGM. This continued to pull more crowd as youth advocates interacted with and engaged the approaching audience.
The audience was hooked in awe as dancers from TRU Dance Art displayed several emotions and moved to familiar beats to express the seriousness of the message. This was rounded up with dancers pulling members of the audience to join them on stage hence building the sense of togetherness while youth advocates from Stand With A Girl (SWAG) engaged the audiences in dialogue.
The country representative of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Ms. Ulla Elizabeth Mueller in her address appreciated the people for giving their time and called on everyone to join the fight against this harmful practice. She stated that “women and girls should be left untouched the way God created them,” adding that FGM has no medical benefit, it’s a human right violation and should stop now.
The Executive Director, Stand With a Girl (SWAG) initiative Margaret Bolaji-Adegbola engaged the audience in an interactive session stating the myths and misconception as well as the harmful health implications associated with FGM. While engaging with the audience, gifts were given to active participants. During the session, the audience were asked to explain FGM in the three major languages in Nigeria (Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba) and Pidgin and opportunity to talk about the harmful effect of FGM. A survivor of FGM who was mutilated at 5 shared her ordeal on how she suffered from anaemia (blood loss) and revealing that this practice have killed three of her sisters. Another survivor who condemned the act stated that by reason of this practice, she is divorced due to loss of sexual pleasure.
The Founder, TRU Dance Art Wale Alebiosu introduced the role that dance played in sensitizing the audience on the dangers, consequences and traumas of Female Genital Mutilation while communicating the role that the community can play in ending FGM. As this went on, 3 dancers showed different emotions using dance steps and body languages that expressed pain and discomfort and the others pulled the audience to join their dance, teaching them steps and speaking to them as they explained that every one of us was responsible for each other and we could all help in ending FGM regardless of our several backgrounds.
The team further conducted a tour into the market to sensitize more people through dance and delivery of key messages on FGM while highlighting the different roles we can all play in ending FGM.
The event was live streamed on SWAG Initiative Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages, TRU Dance Art Facebook page with over 1000 reach and engagements in all.
Stand With A Girl (SWAG) Initiative is a registered youth led organization dedicated to ensuring that every girl in Nigeria no matter where she is born or found is empowered to fulfill her maximum potentials. Its goal is to promote a safe and supportive environment for the social, economic, academic and healthy development of girls in Nigeria.