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Preventing Female Circumcision
One of the biggest problems the average African woman faces when it comes to sexual pleasure is the inability to reach orgasm during sex. This is a man-made problem caused by the absence of a sexual organ called the clitoris. As a result of disgusting cultural practices and beliefs, most Nigerian and other African women are circumcised. This practice, known as female circumcision, involves removing the clitoris from the vagina. In very mild conditions, only a small tip of the organ is removed. But in extreme cases, the entire clitoris and even other parts of the labia are cut off. Therefore, some experts believe that female circumcision is nothing more than female genital mutilation. It is a widespread cultural practice.
In 2007, Bedur Shaker, an eleven-year-old Egyptian girl, died during circumcision. The public outcry that followed her death eventually forced the country’s Ministry of Health to enact a law banning female circumcision in Egypt. We hope that other African countries will find ways to outlaw this archaic cultural practice.
Aside from the health consequences of this practice, which are sometimes serious as in the case of the poor Egyptian girl, it is now a well established fact that women who are circumcised do not enjoy sex as much as their uncircumcised counterparts. Virtually all circumcised women fail to reach orgasm during sex, which is the peak of sexual pleasure for both men and women. The reason for this is not far-fetched. This sexual organ, called the clitoris, has no other known function except to increase the pleasure a woman can get from sex.
Our ancestors were very likely aware of this function of this female organ, so they introduced female circumcision as a way of controlling promiscuity among women – as if a promiscuous or even depraved man had his penis cut off! Our ancestors probably reasoned inductively that if the clitoris gives a woman a lot of pleasure from sex, then by the time it is removed, sex would not be so interesting to a woman that she would want to pursue it outside of marriage. This is undoubtedly a selfish, ignorant and chauvinistic way of thinking that was very common in an era when women were supposed to be seen and not heard. It was evil thinking forced upon women at a time when they were seen as having no rights.
Unfortunately, this cultural practice persists in most African societies to this day. A nationwide survey conducted in Egypt in 2005 revealed that 97% of married women claimed to have been circumcised. A similar study in Nigeria showed that more than 80% of all women surveyed reported having been circumcised. Female circumcision is still considered a cultural norm by most ethnic groups in Nigeria. Some parents in these societies would go to great lengths to have their daughters circumcised. Whatever the cultural ideology behind female circumcision may have been, there is now mounting evidence that it is a negative cultural practice that should be discouraged in all its ramifications. For one, it has made millions of married women, especially here in Nigeria, not to enjoy sex in their marriages. As a result, many circumcised women actually hate sex and try to avoid it. As a result, it has become a major source of friction in many households and one of the unrecognized causes of infidelity and divorce. As a result of their wife’s frigidity, some men become frustrated and look elsewhere for the sexual satisfaction they cannot get from their wives.
In this discussion, I explore how development communication tools can be used to make local people understand the need to change their attitude towards this cultural practice.
Communication development and female circumcision
Developmental communication is a corrective type of communication. It involves the use of specific communication efforts to drive development. Its main objective is to improve the welfare of the people of a given society by sensitizing these people to receive useful and innovative information. Development communication involves well-designed and well-articulated communication efforts to bring development messages to the attention of those who need them. In this sense, how can this tool be used to make local people aware of the dangers of female circumcision? What communication models would be most appropriate to achieve the best results?
Government efforts and why they have failed: Government efforts to solve this social problem have often failed for two reasons: (1) government officials are often shy about approaching this problem forcefully because it involves sex, and sex has always been taboo in our country. company. Our society is hypocritical. People engage in horrific sexual practices in private, yet claim they are too holy to discuss matters of sex in public. But there is nothing wrong with having a positive, dignified and educational discussion about sexual matters. Then (2) when the government intervenes in the matter, it often does so through policies and regulations that should never have been enforced. The thing is, you can’t legislate on that sort of thing.
It is not like male circumcision which is done in government and private hospitals. Female circumcision is done in secret. You will never see the perpetrators to prosecute them. That is why there is a need to adopt a different approach to solving this problem, different from what the government has done without achieving results. In order to influence people’s opinions and change their attitudes and behavior on this matter, there is a need to use opinion leaders, gatekeepers and traditional leaders to legitimize relevant media messages and make them more understandable and acceptable to men, women and other rural people. residents. This naturally leads us to the recommendations of the theory of the two-stage flow hypothesis. The nature of this problem also requires that the two-step flow strategy be used in combination with an instructional design model to ensure greater impact.
Two-stage flow theory
This theory belongs to the diffusion theory of communication. It explains how information spreads from one place to another and from one person to another, especially in traditional societies. The theory states that mass media messages and other types of information often do not reach people directly, but sometimes through the intervention of gatekeepers such as traditional rulers, village chiefs, pastors, indigenous doctors and others who shape opinion in rural areas. Ideas often flow from radio and television stations and print media to these opinion leaders, who then interpret and cascade the message to the less active members of society—the peasantry, such as the uneducated, children, and poor men and women. The theory stratifies people according to their beliefs, interests, activities, and demographic characteristics. The two-phase flow theory further identifies five variables that interfere between a message and how it is received:
(1) Access to information
(3) Character of the medium
(4) Content of the message
(5) The psychological state of the audience
Access to information refers to ownership of radio or television or other sources of information. Exposure means the ability to receive messages. The nature of the medium is related to the type of medium: is it radio, television or printed information? The psychological state of the audience then refers to their attitudes, knowledge, beliefs and perceptions.
Message Intervention Strategy
The recommendations of this theory can be used to solve the problem of female circumcision by following steps:
1. Since the practice is deeply rooted in traditional belief, simply broadcasting opposing views through radio and television is bound to be misinterpreted. People will misinterpret this message as another attempt by the West to impose its views on the local population. The use of force by the government will not work either. A better approach would be to involve some influential local people in the communication effort. Government agencies could package an empirical report and also cite local examples to convince opinion leaders of the negative effects of female circumcision. Based on their new awareness, opinion leaders, especially traditional chiefs and village leaders, can then communicate with people in their communities about the ill effects of female circumcision.
2. Even if there is a need to use conventional mass media tools, it should be a type of media accessible to local people. For example, placing such intervention messages in newspapers and magazines would have little impact because local people rarely read newspapers – most of them are illiterate. Radio and occasional television news would be more effective. The use of city criers can also be explored.
3. Television programs containing messages should include opinion leaders. This could be in the form of a television talk show featuring well-known members of that society (the target audience) and discussing the dangers of female circumcision. Hearing the opinions of their opinion leaders will certainly influence the thinking of the local population.
4. Mass media messages to the rural population should be timed to coincide
With more people being at home to access information. Broadcasting such messages in the afternoon would not have the desired effect as most of them would be away on their farms. The most ideal time for such messages is early evening.
But to ensure that the message intervention achieves the desired results, the tools of the Instructional Design Model need to be used. This strategy includes message design and pre-testing (which falls under pre-program planning), message intervention, then monitoring and evaluation. So the government had to do some audience research studies before putting the message on the air, in the press or in other ways to reach the local people. This includes gathering data on the various target groups to be reached.
This will determine the most appropriate channels to communicate with them, their perception of the issue (in this case FGM) and the most effective media to achieve the desired results with the target audience. Only after this analysis can an intervention in the messages follow. Of course, communications alone are not effective without adequate organizational and managerial support. This is often necessary to ensure constancy and consistency of views.
Monitoring and evaluation
After intervention in the message, it is necessary to measure the impact of the message on the population. This is the final stage of any news tampering effort. It is necessary to take a sample of the population and measure the effect that the message has on their knowledge, attitude and behavior. We need to measure the input and output of the message that will tell us the result of the campaign. For example, how many people will the message reach? How did this message affect their attitude towards female circumcision? Did their behavior towards the practice change as a result of the message? And how much money is the government putting into the project? Finally, did the intervention effort achieve the desired outcome? The answers to these questions form the monitoring and evaluation phase, which is also the final phase of any news intervention effort.
Implementation of the above suggestions will go a long way in helping all stakeholders understand the need to stop this cultural practice. In my humble opinion, this approach will help discourage this primitive and rather chauvinistic practice called female circumcision.
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