The Vicar-General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos and Episcopal Vicar, Ikeja Regional, Msgr. (Dr.) John Kanebi Asuqou Aniagwu has urged all Catholics to dress decently in church and other places.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Aniagwu who is also the Parish Priest of St Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja, said so at a meeting with the lay faithful during his May 2015 canonical visit to St Catherine’s Catholic Church, Alagbado, Lagos. Responding to questions on indecent dressing in churches, Msgr Aniagwu cautioned that, “A child of God has no reason not to dress properly anywhere, whether in the Church, in the market or at university campus.”
He expressed regrets that parents now dress indecently and encourage their children to do same. “Some parents go to the shops to buy those dresses for their children and even the way the fathers and mothers dress sometimes leave much to be desired,” he observed.
He warned, “We should not tolerate indecent dressing in the church, either for boys or for girls, either for men or for women. It is not only women, even men can dress indecently. Some ‘sag’ …sagging is very stupid. They should never do that coming to church. The women should never wear clothes that expose sensitive parts of their body or dresses that are too short.
There is this thing they call ‘spaghetti’. They should not wear such dresses to church especially when they are coming for marriage. I tell them in my church, if you come for wedding and you are not properly dressed, I will not wed you. If you know you are wearing such, please put on the small jacket that goes along with it. After the mass and you want to go naked, that is your business. But inside the church you must dress properly. The same thing goes for the bridesmaids. If you don’t dress well in my church, the church wardens will not allow you inside the church. You will stay outside.
When you finish you can run mad if you like.” He however cautioned that, “Some people want us to believe that for a woman to wear trouser is indecent dressing. That is not correct. It depends on the kind of trouser. There are trousers that are decent. But the one that is very tight they call leggie is not trousers and should not be worn to church.
If the trouser is a proper trouser that covers well, we do not forbid it here in Lagos Archdiocese. On women covering their head in the church, he explained, “There was once a national regulation that women must cover their head when they go to Church. But I can tell you that in many parts of Nigeria especially here in Lagos, that rule has lapsed and we no longer insist. If a particular woman has a special reason for not covering her head, so be it.”
The position of the Catholic Church in Nigeria in respect of same sex union and other moral vices is in consonance with that of the universal Church and in conformity with the Social Teachings of the Church, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, Most Rev. Ignatius Kagama has declared.
Archbishop Kaigama who gave this explanation in his opening address to declare this year’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference First Plenary open in Abuja, stated: “It is a mischievous and faulty generalization to reason that because we resist same-sex ‘marriage’ we differ from our Pope who said: ‘If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?’ The Archbishop continued: “Our compassion for the weak, the marginalized and those who suffer discrimination is unwavering and uncompromising. We minister to all.”
The theme of the Conference was: Church and State Partnership in Providing Quality Education for the Nigerian People. The ceremony took place recently, at the conference hall of the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro- Cathedral, Area 3, Abuja.
The Metropolitan of Jos Province further explained: “We stand for the promotion and protection of human rights which are consistent with our religious and cultural values. Legalizing same-sex ‘marriage’ will open the ﬂood gates to so many moral issues that can seriously compromise our African culture and becloud our evangelization efforts in Nigeria.”
He added: “:Nigerian Catholics do not hate men and women who are of biologically gay orientation, but strongly afﬁrm that gay unions or ‘marriages’ are simply not in conformity with our Christian theology or traditional Nigerian morality.” The explanation of Archbishop Kaigama became necessary following the attack from some quarters on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for commending President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the Anti-same sex Bill into Law.
According to him: “When the CBCN sent a letter commending President Goodluck Jonathan on the stand against same-sex union or ‘marriage’, we did so to uphold the age-long biblical and traditional morality of our people that marriage has always been a union between a man and a woman.
Same-sex unions or so-called ‘marriages’ are alien to us and we resist the idea but we will always extend compassion of Christ to men and women with biological orientation that is gay or lesbian and defend their rights just as we have constantly defended the rights of all persons discriminated against.”
Archbishop Kaigama therefore called on individuals, pressure groups and governments from abroad who are very anxious to ﬁght for the rights of gays in Nigeria to “ﬁrst help us deal with the menacing activities of terrorists who claim that it is their right to kill and destroy, and have caused so many deaths of innocent Nigerians.”
The ceremony was attended by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Most Rev. Augustine Kasujja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan and over 50 members of the conference, the Senate President, Senator David Mark, priests, religious, Knights of the Catholic Church, lay faithful and other dignitaries from all walks of life.
From CNSN News
The continued practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) around the country based on a belief system is impacting gravely on the future of women, writes Abiodun Eremosele
The pains she suffered made her weak.
At age 14, Victoria Ibechukwu from a community in eastern Nigeria went through a humiliating experience of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). As she sat with this reporter to recount her ordeal, she wished it had not happened to her.
“I was forced against my wish,” she said. “But female circumcision or genital mutilation is not leaving us so soon. It is so deep that no knife can cut it. I went through it, and it was so painful and damaging. I want it stopped, I want it stopped and I want it stopped. No new generation lives in its past. We don’t need a barbaric culture anymore.”
In a population of over 150 million people with women accounting for about 52 per cent, Nigeria accounts for about one-quarter of the estimated 115–130 million circumcised women in the world.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a procedure which involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs, whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reasons. In Nigeria, subjection of girls and women to such obscure traditional practice is a common occurrence. FGM is an unhealthy traditional practice inflicted on girls and women worldwide. It is widely recognised as a violation of human rights, which is deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and perceptions over decades across generations with no easy task for change.
Though FGM is practiced in more than 28 countries in Africa and a few scattered communities worldwide, its burden is seen in Nigeria, Egypt, Mali, Eritrea, Sudan, Central African Republic, and northern part of Ghana where it has been an old traditional and cultural practice of various ethnic groups.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) most recent report, though found the practice on the decline but still projected that it will affect 30 million girls over the next decade. So FGM reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It involves violation of rights of the children and violation of a person’s right to health, security, and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death. Furthermore, girls usually undergo the practice without their informed consent, depriving them of the opportunity to make independent decision about their bodies.
According to a report by the Nigerian Medical Association, (NMA), FGM has the highest prevalence in the Southsouth ( 77 per cent among adult women), followed by the Southeast (68 per cent) and Southwest (65 per cent), but practiced on a smaller scale in the north, paradoxically tending to be in a more extreme form. The NMA report revealed that national prevalence rate of FGM is 41 per cent among adult women.
The Prevalence rates progressively declined in the young age groups and 37 per cent of circumcised women do not want FGM to continue. So far, some of the reasons given to justify FGM include: protecting tradition, preservation of chastity and purification, family honour, hygiene, aesthetic, protection of virginity and prevention of promiscuity, modification of sexual attitudes (countering failure of a woman to attain orgasm), increasing sexual pleasure of husband, enhancing fertility and increasing matrimonial opportunities. Other reasons are to prevent mother and child from dying during childbirth and for legal reasons (that one cannot inherit property if not circumcised).
In some parts of Nigeria, the cut edges of the external genitalia are smeared with secretions from a snail footpad with the belief that the snail being a slow animal would influence the circumcised girl to “go slowly” with sexual activities in future.
However, FGM is often routinely performed as an integral part of social conformity and in line with community identity. Despite effort by government to curb the practice, it is important to note that the situation remains very much the same. A man, Daniel Ewheredo told THISDAY of his recent encounter. He said: “I travelled to my village in Igueben Local Government Area, Edo State for my uncle’s burial with my wife and our four daughters.
A day after the burial, I was summoned to a family meeting where the issue centered on the circumcision of our four daughters who were given birth to in Lagos. I refused to agree to their terms and that led to a threat of kidnap and forceful circumcision of my children. But I escaped from the village with my family through the help of a close relative. When I returned to Lagos I had to employ a guard for my children even at school.” Ewheredo said he took the risk to escape to save his children from what their mother suffered when she was forced to be circumcised on the eve of their wedding eight years ago. According to him, his wife hails from Agenegbode in Estako West Local Government in Edo State. He claimed that it is the tradition of his wife’s village that a woman must be circumcised on the eve of her marriage. He told THISDAY that when he resisted the circumcision of his wife before their marriage, he was simply told that his wife will never have a child without the ritual. Ewheredo who said the agony his wife went through had left her with permanent scare told THISDAY that the complications she suffered as a result of the mutilation cost him a fortune and nearly took the life of his wife.
Indeed, Ewheredo is not the only person that has had this experience. A certain Mrs Patience, who hails from a village in Esan West Local Government Area in Edo State, has fled her matrimonial home with her daughters, because of the pressure on her to allow her daughters to be circumcised. She told THISDAY that trouble started when her husband’s brother visited them in Lagos. He had suggested to her husband to take their children to the village for purification, a term for FGM. Her husband accepted the proposal and a date was fixed. And to save her daughters, she fl ed home with them. As it is with rape, many cases of this nature are not reported in Nigeria. Like Ewheredo’s wife, many girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
In Africa, about 3 million girls are at risk of FGM annually. Experts argued that the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women. To be sure, adverse consequences of FGM include pain and haemorrhage, infection, acute urinary retention following such trauma, damage to the urethra or anus as victims often struggle during the procedure making the extent of the operation dictated in many cases by chance, chronic pelvic infection, acquired gynatresia resulting in hematocolpos, vulval adhesions, dysmenorrhea, retention cysts, and sexual difficulties with anorgasmia. Other complications are implantation dermoidcysts and keloids, and sexual dysfunction.
Obstetric complications include perineal lacerations and inevitable need for episiotomy in infi bulated paturients. Others are defi bulation with bleeding, injury to urethra and bladder, injury to rectum, and purperial sepsis. Prolonged labour, delayed 2nd stage and obstructed labour leading to fi stulae formation, and increased prenatal morbidity and mortality have been associated with FGM. Accordingly, the mental and psychological agony of FGM is deemed the most serious complication because the problem does not manifest outwardly for help to be offered.
The young girl is in constant fear of the procedure and after the ritual she dreads having sex because of anticipated pain and dreads childbirth because of complications caused by FGM. Such girls may not complain but end up becoming frigid and withdrawn resulting in marital disharmony. Consequently, a multidisciplinary approach is needed to tackle this deep-rooted legendary practice of FGM.
Experts agreed that there is a need for legislation in Nigeria with health education to ensure liberation of women who still subscribe to the culture of FGM. “A coordinated campaign for social change in the communities where FGM is practised is essential. The battle to eliminate FGM is a long one, but it is a battle we must win,” said Kingsley Odogwu, an expert on FGM. “With improvement in education and social status of women and increased awareness on complications from FGM, most women who underwent FGM will come out to disapprove of the practice and no one would be willing to subject their daughters to such harmful procedures in the future.
The more educated, more informed, and more active socially and economically a woman is, the more she is able to appreciate and understand the hazards of harmful practices like FGM and sees it as unnecessary procedure with a refusal to accept such harmful practice,” he added. In 1994, Nigeria joined other member state at the 47th World Health Assembly where they agreed to eliminate FGM.
In that direction, the steps taken so far include establishment of a multisectoral technical working group on harmful traditional practices (HTPs), conduct of various studies and national surveys on HTPs, launching of a regional plan of action, and formulation of a national policy and plan of action, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council for the elimination of FGM in Nigeria not too long ago. But more is required, if government is keen on saving lives.
I was forced against my wish. But female circumcision or genital mutilation is not leaving us so soon. It is so deep that no knife can cut it. I went through it, and it was so painful and damaging. I want it stopped, I want it stopped and I want it stopped. No new generation lives in its past. We don’t need a barbaric culture anymore
A coordinated campaign for social change in the communities where FGM is practised is essential. The battle to eliminate FGM is a long one, but it is a battle we must win. Culled from THISDAY