Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is on the rise among Nigerian girls aged 0-14. The scourge remains widespread in the country, with an estimated 19.9 million survivors, Nigeria accounts for the third highest number of women and girls who have undergone FGM worldwide. FGM is carried out using various types of unsterilized instruments which include special knives, scissors, and scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades. It has very serious implications on the reproductive, physical and emotional health of girls and women.
It is against this background that Lois Tofunmi Aderomose, who studied Human Anatomy at Bingham University, New Karu in Nasarawa State and has a degree in epidemiology as well, is passionately adding her voice to the voice of others that are advocating an end to FGM. She described the few years she has spent campaigning and volunteering as being challenging and exciting. “Challenging especially because I advocate to end this harmful traditional practice known as FGM (female genital mutilation), I have been insulted and challenged many times especially while speaking on the radio; they say it is their inheritance and FGM helps them to reduce promiscuity and I often reply that an individual’s sexual urges and character can be curbed in many ways but definitely not by FGM because FGM kills.
It’s like resolving a temporary situation using a permanent solution. “It is exciting when you speak to people about the implications of FGM and they change their ways and help to also advocate in their community, on the implications of FGM to the girl child and in case any girl is at risk they will call me to help.”
She noted that her parents inspired her into advocating against FGM. “My parents, Rev Tony Adero- mose and Pastor (Mrs.) Esther Ad- eromose, are missionaries; they have been helping a lot of children by planting schools and developing educational opportunities in different states of Nigeria to help reduce illiteracy. They are my greatest mentors.” Speaking about how the journey started, Aderomose said: “I was at 100-level at the end of the second semester in 2011. It was announced in the school chapel that they will be training to help children teachers and I decided to attend. It was a one-week intensive training on teaching children effectively. I did the training and it just felt like this is the opportunity I was looking for.
After the training, I prayed and studied to understand my passion in 2013, which led me to starting my children’s club, formerly known as ‘Goodnews Club Philippian Mission’, which is now ‘Good Tides Philippian Missions’ Foundation’. “It has been a safe space and place for children where they trust and communicate how they have been molested, bullied, gone through domestic violence, emotional violence, etc. I knew I had to teach them the word of God and also reach out more to help every other child out there, not just children in my vicinity. I embarked on outreaches to different communities, preaching the word of God and also addressing gender- based violence, thereby amplifying the voices of teenagers.”
Aderomose, who has organised different awareness creation campaigns in different communities within the FCT, noted that the impact made so far is tremendous. “Research shows that 68 million girls worldwide were estimated to be at risk of FGM between 2015 and 2030. Due to community intervention projects and media campaign through the help of global media campaigns to end FGM, UNFPA and initiatives for girls’ rights and health development, I have been able to reach out to millions of people with anti-FGM messages via media campaigns and I have had interpersonal communication with those at risk of FGM and also practitioners of FGM and many have stopped the act.”
Sharing her thought on Gender Based Violence (GBV), she said gender-based violence is a violent act that affects both gender and so the best approach to end GBV is to make men our allies to end GBV/FGM. “As women we really can’t do it alone so proper education about what GBV/FGM and how we can work to end it together should be done. Advocacy on SGBV is everyone’s business. So, it is important that we all know that if you see something say or do something, we don’t keep fighting the transgenerational trend of GBV.
“I have written a comic book on FGM titled: ‘Tolani ni rara’ (meaning: “Tolani said no”). The book was launched at the Esu Karu Palace in Nasarawa State in 2021. This book is also available in braille for inclusion of those visually impaired and was launched at the School of the Blind, Jabi on the 24th of October 2022, this book is being used for sensitisation in different states around Nigeria,” she said.
She noted that data from the UNICEF website shows that Imo, Osun, Ekiti, Ebonyi and Oyo states have high prevalence of FGM. “I have been to Ekiti State on sensitisation working with the Special Assistant on Gender Matters to her excellence Erelu Bisi Fayemi (the former First Lady) in the person of Barrister Shirley Atane and media campaigns were also done.” She concluded by saying her medical background helps her understand the structure that is removed from the women’s body during FGM and the function of that structure.
“I studied human Anatomy at Bingham University and have a degree in epidemiology as well; this has helped me to understand what FGM is and how to advocate better about it. My medical background helps me understand the structure that is removed from the body of women and the function of that structure. “I have organised awareness creation projects in different communities ( Barangoni, Zuma and other communities in Bwari Area Council, Paikon-Kore in Gwagwalada, Kpeyegyi, Karu, Jikowyi, Kado Kuchi, Kuchingoro, Durumi, etc.) and through radio/television interviews.
“I have also successfully completed two courses with the Federation of International Gender and Human Rights of which I was certified as a sexual and gender based violence advocate and a mental health advocate. In addition, I have written six tracts for kids/teenagers to educate and enlighten them on issues of relevance for their growth. “Finally, at Good Tides Philippi- an Mission Foundation we envision a society where kids/teenagers can live, love, and stay happy without the fear of violence and violation.”