By Godwin Ifijeh
Until now, they were a most happy family. Comfortable by their own standard, Mr. Value Onehireba Ewansubhor and his wife, Ese and their three daughters have got all it takes to make life pleasurable and worth living for them.
Until he chose to run his private business some few years back, he has worked as a banker for many years and made success of it. His wife is a lawyer and has been successful in private practice. They have worked, lived well and remain in the oil city of Warri, Delta State these past years, they own properties, dream dreams and continue to dream and work for success for a better tomorrow for them and their children, who they hoped to nurture to greatness and take over from them wherever they may stop.
But their peace of mind have become troubled in the recent times by a traditional and cultural practice of the people of the wife, which demands that their three beautiful daughters to whom they own everything they live for must undergo female genital mutilation. They have done everything to convince the family of his wife to exempt the children from this obnoxious bestial act, but the family would simply not give in to them.
In a most solemn voice, Value Ewansubhor opened up to THISDAY on the telephone and began the story of what has become a confounding and most worrying dilemma to the family as the year 2017 grounds to a halt to usher in 2018: “Since early 2017, some members of my wife’s family have been pressurising us to release to them our three daughters, the eldest, aged 10 and the twins, who are now just 7 years plus, to have them circumcised. I have done everything possible with my wife to get them, particularly her elder brother, Uncle Henry Otorme, to drop the idea but to no avail. They are bent on mutilating the girls’ genitals, insisting that it is the historical practice by which their people preserve their ladies, curtail their sexual arousal and keep them in check.
“With their insistent and a threat recently to ensure that the three girls are circumcised, whether we like it or not, we want to appeal to government and the general public to prevail on my wife’s family of Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State to leave the three children alone as we do not want them circumcised.
“We are forced to bring the matter to the public domain after all attempts to resist the mounting pressure on us from my wife’s family to have the girls circumcised have come to naught, believing that this might possibly dissuade them from their hard line position on the matter.
“Although we realise that this is an age-long standing tradition of large scale practice in Urhobo land, particularly in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, where my wife hails from and one that has declined, if not completely phased out already in my own homeland of Esan in Edo State, we are by virtue of our religion and education not willing to make our children to go through the experience and insist that it is a tradition that should be put behind us in this age and times.”
His wife, Ese, also in a telephone added: “We don’t know what to do any more, we are forced to cry to the public as they have now resorted to threatening us, vowing that once it’s time to have the children circumcised, they know how to go about it to ensure that it is carried out on them. We are scared and afraid that our daughters’ lives are under threat. I am home alone most times with the children as my husband is always away on business trips. The last time Uncle Henry came to the house, he came with some people, I don’t know those people and he said it is not him that will circumcise my daughters but those persons and they know how to go about it when it is time to do it; I am very scared for the lives of my children, I don’t know these people, if I see them outside I can’t identify them, even the Uncle Henry, the same parents with me, championing the course, I don’t know where he lives in Warri, they could probably be monitoring and tailing our movement, they know my children’s school, we use to keep the children with my mother when we are out, we are forced to put a stop to that now, we don’t allow the children to visit there anymore, we are scared and what do we do? My husband’s family has advised him against involving the police so as not to drive a wedge between him and my family. On the other hand, we have become so established in Warri that we cannot relocate from here, we own properties of our own, we are reasonably comfortable, my husband was a banker for many years before he left to set up his private business and has been doing very well, I am a lawyer and have been in private practice for some years. Even if we have to relocate from Warri, where do we go; to start life all over again? We are in a dilemma, something urgent needs to be done to put an end to this bestial inclination of my people, we need the public to come to our rescue, government needs to put an end to this barbaric practices of our people, they are most uncivilized in this age.”
Mrs. Ewansubhor said she is restrained from taking recourse to the law because of what she saw happened to lawyers in similar situations who resorted to that in the past while appealing for public support and opinion to dissuade her family and home community, which she said, were still largely involved in the bestial act from continuing with the practice.
Confirming the family’s insistent to have the children circumcised, Mrs. Ewansubhor’s elder brother, Henry Otorme, who sounded very confident and unapologetic on the telephone, said there was no going back on having the children circumcised.
According to the ex-sailor, who claimed to have worked in many vessels and retired as Chief Electrician: “It is not whether they like it or not, my sister cannot go against it, they know that we do it, it is the traditional in our family and community at large, it is an immoral act for a female child not to be circumcised, and it is the practice till date in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, where we come from, it is rare to get a lady not circumcised in our place, we cannot forget about it, it is always a big problem when a lady is not circumcised because they get aroused easily. And because we have this practice of having female children circumcised, all our daughters go to marriage as virgins. When a woman is not circumcised, she is always restless, hungry for sex. It is even difficult, having them to cope with one man in marriage.”
Reminded that the father of the children involved this time around is not of the same traditional back ground as him, he quipped: “What about that? The man and our sister are married and now share by virtue of that the same culture and traditions. However, I concede that the man is the head of his house, I will talk to him about it and make him understand why the children should be circumcised, if he still refuses, well, he is the driver of his house, but it is important that they do it, it is our practice in the family.”