Addressing the Menace of Rape and Female Genital Mutilation through Theatre for Development
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Rape and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are societal malaises that have bedeviled our local communities especially in Ekiti State, Nigeria, for quite a while. In most parts of Nigeria, while the former is a relatively new evil frowned at and condemned by every sane individual though without any legal action taken against the culprit most times, the latter is an age-long cherished practice actively and openly carried out with the full conviction that it is to the advantage of the girl child. Based on the above, TfD tools were deployed to two communities (Ijurin and Kajola) in Ekiti state, Nigeria, to educate, and re-orientate the people on these issues. At the end of the TfD intervention, rapists realized the legal consequences of their actions and rape victims became fully informed of their legal rights against rapists. In the same vein, supporters and die-hards of female genital mutilation became genuinely convinced of the enormous physical, medical and psychological damage, ignorantly done to the girl child through the act, that is, if it does not lead to death. Also, the people appreciated the fact that rape victims who became pregnant as a result of the act can still realize their dreams if shown love, understanding and encouragement. The research concluded that, with examples of TfD interventions at Ijurin and Kajola, it is obvious that many communities are living in ignorance and are ingrained in archaic and backward traditions that have led to the death of many innocent souls. It is equally ascertained that such obnoxious traditions have negative impact on the lives of the girl child and women. The research therefore recommends the TfD praxis for government, parastatals, and NGOs that are genuinely interested in the expected change and development that is highly needed in the local communities of Africa. A synergy could be created between those bodies and Applied Theatre practitioners to intervene in the desired orientation, conscientization, change and development for the local communities.
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