DAKAR, Oct 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Armed with
mobile phones, young people across Nigeria are turning to social
media to discuss and report cases of female genital mutilation
(FGM) in a country where a quarter of girls and women have been
cut, activists said on Tuesday.
While press freedom in Nigeria is limited, social media is
rising in popularity and has been used to draw the attention of
local and national authorities to violence against women and
girls, according to anti-FGM charity 28 Too Many.
"Lots of young people are speaking out about FGM - whether
it is Twitter chats, blogs or webinars," Nigerian activist
Kelechukwu Nwachukwu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"Young people might not have access to traditional or print
media, but they feel engaged on social media," added 22-year-old
Nwachukwu, a law student who also works for The Girl Generation,
a U.K.-funded programme to end FGM in 10 African countries.
Around 20 million women and girls in Nigeria have undergone
FGM, which is practiced in many African countries and pockets of
the Middle East and Asia. FGM is estimated to have affected 200
million worldwide, the U.N. children's agency (UNICEF) says.
The ritual, often seen as a gateway to marriage and a way of
preserving a girl's purity, involves the removal of the external
genitalia and causes numerous health problems that can be fatal.
"If FGM does occur, the first place a case is reported is
often on social media," said Mary Wandia, End FGM programme
manager at the London-based women's rights group Equality Now.
"It is hugely important to help gather information quickly,"
she said, adding that she had seen an increase in the use of
Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter to talk about the dangers of FGM.
Nigeria banned FGM in May last year. While 13 of the 36
states have legislation that bans the practice, the other states
have yet to adopt the federal law, according to 28 Too Many.
"It takes time for each state to get their laws in place and
then there is a challenge of implementing," the charity said in
a report published on the International Day of the Girl Child.
(Reporting by Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
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