By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
For her refusal to surrender her twin daughters for Circumcision Mrs. Sarah Oluwakemi Amawu-Charles, is facing persecution in the hands of Evbuobonosa community in Orhionwon Local government area of Edo state, South south Nigeria, Mrs. Olaiya Olutimenyi, the victim’s sister has alleged.
Mrs. Olutimenyi, who stated this in a message sent to journalists in Abuja, lamented how the community has caused the family of Mrs. Amawu-Charles untold hardship as she resists compliance with the act of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is a common rite of passage for female children in the community.
According to Mrs. Olutimenyi the search for safety has caused her sister to flee and stay away from the community with her daughters and a son for a safe haven thereby causing a separation and anguish for the entire family.
Narrating the ordeal facing her sister, Mrs. Olutimenyi said that at the birth of the twins, it was expected by tradition that the two girls must be circumcised but the mother in agreement with the husband refused to bow to the traditional rite of passage which they considered to be a health hazard for girls.
“Although the family had a reprieve for a while, the community was relentless in their demand and when the girls turned ten, the pressure became unbearable for the family and they had to flee and stay away to save their lives.” Mrs. Olutimenyi said.
Continuing, Mrs. Olutimenyi said that their family is experiencing severe challenges of living happily as one because of the stress caused by the separation of members. Explaining that it is difficult for her to understand why such a barbaric, inhuman and harmful traditional practices are still promoted, Mrs. Olutimenyi said she feels that so many traditional institutions are not listening to the campaign to stop FGM.
Emphasisng that she is speaking in pains of someone who is experiencing the hazards of separation, she said she is calling for help from all who can offer it to ensure that the family can know the peace it has hitherto enjoyed.
“I know that a lot of communities find the transition from old practices very difficult. I can see that there is more work to be done in seeing to the safety of the girl child in this community where the belief of Mrs. Amawu-Charles has made her to be considered a strange woman and her life being endangered. But I am confident that there will come a time when this belief in FGM will become an issue in the dustbin of culture. Then girls and their families who opposed the practice will find peace to live together.”