THE EFFECT OF MEDIA CAMPAIGN IN THE ERADICATION OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION PRACTICE IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES OF SOUTH-SOUTH NIGERIA

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Media campaigns are widely used to expose high proportions of large populations to messages through routine uses of existing media, such as television, radio, and newspapers. Exposure to such messages is, therefore, generally passive.The use of mass media to crusade and mobilize support against certain crude and inhuman cultural practices has remained an essential focus on the social responsibility function of the media. Hence, this study beyond opinionated conjectures, empirically studied the influence of media campaigns in the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice in selected communities of south south Nigeria. The survey research design was used to study a representative sample size of the target population. A sample size of three hundred and eighty three was selected and administered a twenty one item questionnaire. Research findings revealed that the media mix approach for the said campaigns, meaningfully helped at influencing the attitude of the south south rural women against the FGM practice. The study concluded that media campaigns against FGM have paid off and recommended that sensitization programmes like seminars etc. should be organized for traditional rulers, religious leaders and other opinion leaders to enable them use other rural media communication channels to further sensitize and mobilize the rural women so as to consolidate the gains of the campaign and ensure total eradication of the FGM practice.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Every media content obviously aims at influencing the attitude and behaviour of its target audience. To achieve this, therefore, media practitioners must understand the psychographic and demographic realities of the target audience. Ipso facto, they must appreciate the prevailing culture of the people and the most useful and persuasive approach to use in order to influence attitude.

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It, therefore, suffices that a strong relationship exists between mass communication and culture. Hence, Baran (2002:6) definition of mass communication as “the process of creating shared learning between the mass media and their audiences”. In line with its informative, educative and socialization functions among others, the media socializes the people into accepted norms and values as well as necessitates a change in cultural pattern where necessary, since human behaviour as well as culture is dynamic.

Nigeria has more than two hundred and fifty ethnic nationalities with diverse cultures that dictate people’s patterns
of behaviours (Uturu, 2009). The dynamic nature of the society demands that these patterns of behaviour should be
modified or eradicated for the sake of modernization and development. The traditional practice of Female Genital
Mutilation (FGM) is one of these behaviours, but unlike other distinctive behaviours, it is a prevalent practice in all
the Nigerian ethnic nationalities (Kolawole & Anke, 2012; Okpanchi, 2005). Ibekweet al. (2012), Mandara (2005),
the US Department of State (2001), and Shah, Susan, and Furcroy (2009) observed that the practices of female
genital mutilation (FGM) as well as the campaign to eradicate the practice are universal phenomena. Female
genital mutilation, which is also known as female circumcision, is a set of procedures used to remove part or all of
the external female genitals.

The beginning of this cultural practice is conceivably unknown, but generations have continued this exercise with
the notion that it regulates woman’s libido, promiscuity and ability to enjoy sex, while also enhancing fertility and
childbirth. People that do not believe in these perceived benefits of cutting this most essential part of women organ,
still subject their children to female genital mutilation because of cultural orientation, to ensure their acceptability
in the society and improve their chances of marriage (La-Barbera, 2009; Ahmadi, 2013). Thirdly, the practice of
FGM has been a source of personal income for the elderly female members of the community, barbers, traditional
healers and birth attendants who carry out the procedure (BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB),
2002).

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