Saturday, October 27, 2012

How Woman Lost Two Children To Circumcision In Bayelsa


Yenagoa, (Bayelsa State, Nigeria) — After one of her daughters bled to death after circumcision and another went missing for fear for being circumcised, a mother of three was told by her in-laws that she must also be circumcised if she must remain their wife.

Despite the fact that the Bayelsa State House of Assembly had enacted a law prohibiting female genital mutilation, many communities in the state are allegedly still engaged in the practice, which many say violates women's rights.

The state Assembly had during the last dispensation through a bill sponsored by the then only female member, representing Southern-Ijaw constituency 1, Vivian Imananagha-Ere, promulgated a law to sanction erring families who forced their female relations into circumcision.

The federal government had also frowned at the practice, therefore, prescribing a seven year jail term for any offender. In the case of Bayelsa State, anyone who indulges in the act would be liable to two-year-imprisonment or a fine of N20, 000.

But many women are still secretly telling their story of pain and anguish of how they fell victims in the hands of their natives, who forced them into circumcision against all odds.

One of such women is Patience Youngbo who lost her daughter to the "barbaric" culture in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state. Patience is still nursing the trauma of how to find the other daughter who fled home to escape the "cruel hands of the initiators."

The victimized girls - Patricia Youngbo (18), Joy Youngbo (16) and Success Youngbo (8) - were said to have traveled home to celebrate the last Christmas with their grandmother while their mother was far away in United Kingdom.

Mrs. Patience Nmgbor Yougbo, mother of the three children said, when she returned from the UK on June, 27, 2012, was informed by her husband that their three daughters went to Amassoma in Bayelsa to spend Christmas holiday with their grandmother but were subjected to the inhumane treatment.

According to her, she agreed to travel home in company of her husband to bring back the children, but on reaching home, it was discovered that one of the daughters, Joy Youngbo, who was forcefully circumcised on January 3, 2012, died two days later from excessive bleeding.

Her elder sister, Patricia Youngbo, out of fear, absconded from home since February 14, 2012 to Lagos which was expected to be her destination, but has not been found up till date.

The development, Patience narrated, propelled the relations, who did not make any contact to acquaint her over the incident to send her third daughter to an aunt's place where the worst fear of her life manifested real.

The family members insisted that she (mother) must be circumcised alongside her remaining children and her husband consented to it because it is a family tradition and also as part of sharing the inheritance left behind by her husband's father.

She stressed that due to pressure from the family members, her husband decided to succumb but promised his kindred that they (himself and the wife) would come back for the ceremony on August 25, 2012. To secure her release, she was also taken to a village shrine called Ogbaro to swear to an oath that she will come back for the circumcision ceremony.

"When I returned to Lagos, I reported the matter at the police headquarters in Ikeja, where the officers in charge said it is a family matter and I should go back and settle with them. Till date my daughter Patricia is still missing while my husband and his family are still mounting pressure on me to be circumcised," the woman said.

When contacted on the matter, Secretary of the Civil liberty Organisation (CLO), Morris Alagoa in the state confirmed that the primitive practice still exists in the state, adding that he actually heard of Youngbo's case but was yet to dig deep into the matter.

........HOPE ABAH/DAILY TRUST NIGERIA, OCTOBER 27, 2012
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