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FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION IN NIGERIA: Will this nefarious act ever end?

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the partial or complete removal of the external sex organs (clitoris) of a female child between 0-15 years of age, also known as female circumcision. This practice is a tradition/ritual that is slowly going into extinction; however, some traditional families still uphold it. A few people practicing FGM claim that the practice is essential for their religion, but there is no documentation in any of their Holy books of such practice. Mind you; Female Genital Mutilation is a violation of Human Rights.

To understand why FGM is hurtful and should be stopped, it is vital to make a comparison to male circumcision. Male circumcision is the excision of the skin covering the tip of the penis for the prevention of penis-related diseases and sexually transmitted diseases. If a male child doesn’t get circumcised, health & emotional complications are inevitable down the line, whereas it is the opposite for the female child when she undergoes circumcision.

Do you see the difference?

The FGM procedure is usually carried out by unqualified health practitioners leading to a lot of complications that affect the physical, psychological & mental well-being of the female child throughout their entire life.

“I watched a movie some time ago on the subject, and it broke my heart. If something is going to affect someone for their entire life, shouldn’t they at least be given a chance to make a choice?”

Hannah Omoye

According to Kandala et. al, Nigeria is the third-largest country contributing to Female Genital Mutilation globally with two other African countries topping the chart, Egypt & Ethiopia, respectively (2). There are laws in place against FGM like the Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015, but perpetrators are seldom held to justice because there are no reports.

It is surreal that some women who have been circumcised believe that their daughters should go through the same process without giving a second thought to the effects it had on them. It hurts, even more, finding out from scientific evidence that FGM is prevalent in the South West (41.2%) compared to any other zone in Nigeria, with Ekiti state (62.6%) topping the chart. You would expect Ekiti State to have the least percentage due to the higher rate of professors and learned people, but as the saying goes, “every man’s ability is increased and strengthened by culture.”

Read this journal for in-depth knowledge of the FGM statistics in Nigeria.

The former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had banned Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria, but the cultural beliefs still hold firm, and a few still practice it. It should be noted that FGM has no health benefits, and it harms the female child in several ways.

Before I proceed, here are the different types of Female Genital Mutilation

Types of Female Genital Mutilation

1. Clitoridectomy: Medically, clitoridectomy is the removal, complete & partial removal of the clitoris.

2. Excision: Excision is a clitoridectomy plus the partial and complete removal of the labia minora & majora. The labia are the flaps surrounding the vagina. Look at the picture above.

3. Infibulation: Infibulation involves entirely scraping the vagina, stitching it while leaving a tiny hole for urination & menstruation. The female’s legs are tied for about 20-35 days to accommodate the healing of the vagina while she goes through excruciating pain. When the lady marries, the husband removes the stitches on the wedding night to have sex with her.

Different types of Female Genital Mutilation
Different types of FGM

All types of Female Genital Mutilation are painful, hurtful, and unhealthy, but Infibulation, in my opinion, is the worse of them all. Imagine the pain the infibulated lady would go through on her wedding night. The process is equivalent to opening a wound on your hand and fighting someone else with the same hand. Imagine the blood loss, pain, and breakdown. It’s unfathomable.

Reasons for Female Genital Mutilation

  1. It is believed that FGM increases sexual pleasure in men.
  2. Keeps the female child in check and prevents sexual exploits.
  3. Helps the female child to focus on more important things in life.

Side effects of Female Genital Mutilation

  1. Low self-esteem,
  2. Reduced sexuality,
  3. Bleeding
  4. Bacterial infection
  5. Sores around the genitalia
  6. Urinary diseases
  7. Pain
  8. Reduced sexual pleasure,
  9. Even DEATH!

Aside from these, there could be complications during childbirth, infertility issues, immunocompromised diseases, and so on.

My experience with Female Genital Mutilation

Typing this now, I am grateful for educated, sensitive, and disciplined parents.

I remember vividly when I was about graduating from secondary school, and my grandmother requested I slept in her house overnight; she wanted us to do some things, that was what she said. Ignorantly, I had followed her because she was a sweet grandma, took good care of me, and had spoiled me with goodies lots of times. A few steps from my mother’s house, I saw my mother walking quickly to catch us, and I felt a raging sensation I hadn’t felt before.

How did she know the intentions of grandma? That was the question that I pondered upon in those few seconds. I didn’t have an inkling, but how come my mother knew what her mother wanted to do to momma’s precious only daughter?

She looked at grandma sternly, scolded her, and I remember her words,

“You think you can circumcise her now that her father is dead? Her father made me promise him never to allow his daughter to be circumcised, and that won’t be happening.”

Mother

She snatched me from grandma, and as we turned around to go home,  I saw the remorseful yet stubborn look on grandma’s face.

She had been defeated, and I was saved from a practice that could have hurt me forever.

This is a sensitive topic that a lot of people tend to shy away from, not because they don’t want to talk about it, but reliving the experience is a choice I wouldn’t pick too.

Sadly, Female Genital Mutilation is still practiced in Nigeria and most likely in other third-world countries despite the rapid civilization. We all wish it could stop globally, but while some parts of the world practice it still, you can be the voice against FGM in your part of the world. You can be like Ruth’s mother, who didn’t indulge her mother at the detriment of her daughter’s well-being. You shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it.

As a male, you can stand against this practice by ensuring that your daughter or unborn daughters don’t get circumcised, educating other men, and voicing out against FGM wherever you may be.

If you have been circumcised as a female, and you are reading this, regardless of your stance on this topic, I hope you won’t repeat the same cycle with your children. If you are hurting from FGM complications, I pray you find healing, and if you escaped the practice, I say congratulations.

Regardless of the category you belong, STAY STRONG, AND BE A VOICE FOR OTHER LADIES!

What are your thoughts on Female Genital Mutilation?

Do you think the practice no longer holds?

Do you think FGM is a critical practice that should be carried out?

Leave a comment below, let’s discuss.

Read also: 12 PROS AND CONS OF ENERGY DRINKS.


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5 Comments

  1. Oh my God!
    I can’t believe you nearly experienced this horrible act. I wrote a report on FGM in my final year of university and researching this topic made me understand how serious FGM is. I had heard about it but didn’t know anyone who had been affected by this in one way or the other. I heard some cultures practice it in Nigeria especially the Southern area, but I never really heard anyone talk about it. I am glad your Mother showed up at the right time!

    It is sad that the Nigerian Government has still not taken radical steps to putting this act to an end once and for all. The VAPP (An act that was recently passed into law) hasn’t been signed by several State government’s. I haven’t read of anyone being prosecuted for this terrible act. I just hope and pray that in the nearest future this horror would be put to an end. No one deserves to go through this oppression. It is inhumane.

    I hope more people are enlightened. Thanks for putting this up Ruth.

    The annoying thing is that the reasons they give for FGM don’t even make sense🤦‍♀️ God help the female gender, we go through a whole lot in society. There has to be a change!🙏

    1. It is indeed a serious matter that we seldom talk about. From my research, FGM is common in the south/western part of Nigerian with fewer cases in the North. The northerners have their issue though – I won’t get to that because it’s another sad happening.

      At all, I haven’t heard nor seen a radical action taken on this matter too except for those done by concerned parents and custodians.

      There has to be a change, and it starts with us enlightening one another. Thanks for the well-thought-out comment sis.

  2. Matilda says:

    Great!!

  3. Matilda says:

    This is insightful
    Learnt a lot

    1. I’m glad you did.

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