It was a battle of her life as a 17-year-old student of Comprehensive Secondary School Achacha 1 Community Igbeagu, in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Miss Confidence Mbam escaped to Calabar, Cross Rive State when over 10 men and elderly women took her hostage, held her bound to enable a traditional birth attendant mutilate her against her wish of being circumcised.
In over six hours journey from the state capital, THISDAY visited Achacha 1 community with a team of United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF representatives led by Mrs. Ijeoma Onuoha Ogwe and Mrs. Adline Idike of the Adline Advocacy for the Dignity of the Destitute
Foundation to further rescue the minor and counsel the community on the dangers of the practice.
The victim said that trouble started when her father informed her that she would be circumcised in a few days time but because of the teaching by her Pastor of the dangers of the circumcision, she had to run to her brother in Calabar for protection.
According to her, ‘’on the faithful day, when I was asked to proceed for the circumcision and I objected, about 10 men and women took me hostage, held me bound and forcefully wanted to carry out the circumcision. Fortunately for me, I managed to wriggle out from them
and immediately ran to the Pastor of our church who took me in and haboured me for the night.
‘’The next morning and still in a state of confusion, the Pastor came up with an idea that I should leave the village and travel to Cross River State and stay with my elder brother for the mean time. I left the village and went to stay with my elder brother until I was asked
to return to the village following the quick intervention of UNICEF and other agencies that were reliably informed of the incident and they quickly intervened.’’
Mbam, a JSS 1 student insisted that any further attempt to force her into circumcision would still force her to escape from their home again adding that before now she has been enlightened in her school and church of dangers of female genital mutilation which prompted her action.
Similarly, another 18-year-old student of Comprehensive Secondary School Igbagu, Miss Faith Nkwede, who also hails from Achacha 1 community while also narrating her own ordeal explain that she also had to run away from home and resist the attempt to be forcefully circumcised which has been an aged long tradition in the community having also been informed of the challenges and agony women face during and after the mutilation of the female genital.
She stated that she would have been mutilated at the age of 18 with all the pains and agony associated with it but for the campaign by UNICEF and other agencies against the harmful practice and urged other young girls in the community to also resist the attempt as that would save the community and end the practice.
The father of Miss Confidence, Mr. Bernard Mbam who is the village head of Achacha 1 community said that he had informed the daughter of plan to have her circumcised at the age of 17 but to his surprise she escaped from the community and ran to Cross River State from where she was mandated to return home after the intervention of UNICEF.
Mr. Mbam said that with the enlightenment and advocacy visit of UNICEF to the community, he would henceforth lead the campaign against female genital mutilation and commended UNICEF and other non-governmental organisations for their efforts.
Meanwhile, there was a mild drama at the residence of Mr. Mbam when three women including the grandmother of miss Confidence rained abuses on her and threatened to carry out the circumcision should the UNICEF team leaves leaving her behind which prompted the founder of Adline Advocacy for the Dignity of the Destitute to forestall the plan had to immediately take custody of the girl.
The Founder of the advocacy group, Mrs. Idike said that she decided not to allow the girl stay back in the village as the women were prepared to take laws into their hands by mutilating the girl and face the outcome.
She stated that with the girl out from the village, she has saved her from the agony of being mutilated and said that her group would intensify the campaign in Achacha 1 community and other villages in Izzi where the practice is still very high.