Female Genital Mutilation in the most simplistic term is the cutting or removal of some or the whole of the external female genitalia either for cultural reasons or non-medical reasons. It can be described as a sort of female circumcision as well. A disturbing practice quite rampant in Africa, the Middle East, and some European Countries. Nigeria is a prominent example of countries involved in the practice.
Female Genital Mutilation is usually carried out on the girl-child from days after conception to puberty and beyond, with Nigeria having a prevalence ratio of seventeen percent (17%) amongst females aged between 0 to 14 years, and twenty five percent (25%) for females aged between 15 to 49 years.
This dastardly act is mostly carried out by local midwives and traditional medical healers using crude and very dangerous tools, and it is done in an ill-thought attempt to control women’s sexuality. The belief is based on creating a gender difference between the male and the female. It is assumed male circumcision de-feminizes the male, while female genital mutilation de-masculinizes the female (The LGBT community begs to differ). It is also believed to be done for social acceptance in some communities – a type of rite of passage into womanhood for the girl-child. While it is carried out on some females for religious reasons (even the Holy Books recommended it just for males), preservation of virginity (I’m still struggling to understand the correlation between the two), enhancement of sexual pleasure for men (an extremely selfish reason to mutilate a female), and hygiene (how the notion that cutting a part of the female genitalia makes the female child cleaner is just simply ludicrous). And these are just a few of the inane reasons why females are made to go through this barbaric ritual. UNICEF has also described this procedure as a self-enforcing social convention which some communities deem necessary for rite of passage for the girl-child.
Study has continuously shown this inhumane procedure offers nothing positive to the girl-child but poses a myriad of negative implications for the girl-child. Some of the negative implications for the girl-child includes but not limited to the following.
- Excessive bleeding
- Wound infection
- Complication for the female during childbirth
- Increased risk of HIV
- Sexual dysfunction
- Damage to the urethra which leads to Urinary Incontinence.
- Painful sexual intercourse for the female
- Formation of cysts and abscesses
- Long term psychological damage on the female
Despite a federal law banning female genital mutilation in Nigeria in 2015, the practice continues in a lot of rural communities and religious communities due to their social and religious beliefs. The society and the government must do more in ensuring such dangerous procedures are totally outlawed in Nigeria.
As the world strives for more protection, equality, and inclusion for the girl-child all over the world, its high time we also ensured procedures such as female genital mutilation truly becomes a thing of the past.