FGM or Female Genital Mutilation is personal to me because my mother, Ina, was a victim of this practice. It’s not commonplace or culturally based in Africa as a standard, though you will still find it practiced as a means of controlling or governing women's sexuality. Because it’s an illegal practice, it’s done in secret, which also means that it's often performed haphazardly without safety precautions or regard for the pain and infections that surely follow.
For those who do not already know, FGM is the removal, all or in part, of the external female genitalia through traditional “surgery” performed with razor blades or shards of glass. As part of our Maternal Care Empowerment Initiative, Alaffia's midwives gently and respectfully, educate and inform mothers on the negative effects of FGM on women’s mental and physical health and the consequences during the birthing process post-procedure. Often, the resulting scar tissue reduces elasticity, limiting the ability of skin and tissue to expand, not allowing room for a child to be born once a woman has undergone FGM. This can and does lead to both maternal and child mortality. It’s also common for women to battle continual pelvic infections because of procedure contamination and incomplete healing, which poses an additional threat to the health of a woman and thusly her family and surrounding community.
We decided to put Alaffia’s resources behind eradicating this practice in Togo communities and helping those already inflicted. I thank you kindly for reading this blog post, which contains, undoubtedly, uncomfortable content to digest, and my hope is that you'll share and spread the word about Alaffia's maternal care efforts. Your support of our mission by purchasing our products helps us continue and expand our Maternal Health Care Empowerment Project.
You may be familiar with the story of Abide, a midwife who served the women in our Maternal Health Empowerment Project. She was riding her motorcycle one day some years ago and came across a young woman, Hodalo, on the side of the road who was distressed and in pain. Hodalo was in labor and had been personally affected by FGM earlier in her life, which can make labor and delivery painful and life-threatening to mother and child.
Abide took Hodalo to the nearest clinic where they told her they couldn’t care for her because she could not pay for services. Abide assured them that Alaffia would handle any payments and helped support Hodalo through labor. She had a healthy birth. Hodalo was so grateful that she named her baby “Alaffia" and there have been many more babies named “Alaffia” since then.
At the end of a matter, we ask ourselves "is this in support and best interest of healthy mothers, babies & communities?" and if the answer is yes, then we must press on!
Yanakokari (THANK YOU)!