Film on female genital mutilation wins first pan-African award for reportage

11 February 2016

A powerful film on female genital mutilation has won the first pan-African award for reportage. The film awarded in Abuja, Nigeria, was made by two Kenyan journalists and is about five young women who sought to end mutilation in western Kenya.

The winning team Diana Kendi, 29 and Jane Gatwiri, 24 working for the Nation media group made the nine-minute film for the UNFPA / Guardian award in the face of hostility from some local people. ''The village elders even refused to speak to us because we were 'uncut' women'', Kendi said.

The film features five survivors who covered their faces as they did not want to be identified. According to Kendi, the five girls had fled to a rescue centre to avoid being cut but two had already been mutilated.

She said she had known girls in some communities who had died because of this. She added she was doing this, to stop such deaths from barbaric practices.

Meanwhile, Nigeria's minister of state for health Osagie Ehanire had raised concern over the "medicalisation" of female genital mutilation (FGM) that had affected the lives and health of more than 20 million Nigerian women.

According to Ehanire, local residents were commonly known to cut genitalia of young women without anaesthesia or skill and inflicting pain and trauma. Some health workers provided a "medicalised" FGM, in which they offered anaesthesia, disinfectants and sterile cutting instruments to reduce pain and infection.

"The World Health Organisation has warned against any form of FGM, and against it being done by health professionals in any sense," the minister said on  Tuesday at the launch of the End FGM, a national movement to abandon the practice by 2030.

Evidence indicates trained health workers are helping families cut their daughters' genitalia.

Dr Christopher Ugboko, head of gender, adolescence and elderly at the federal health ministry, spoke at a press briefing, "Some doctors say, 'OK we are going  to provide hygienic conditions for doing it.' We are asking SOGON [the Society for Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Nigeria] to know that the practice is inhuman. It should not be done, whether hygienic or not."

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