Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) comprises all procedures involving the removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Although not always the case, it most commonly occurs between the ages of 0 to 15 years and the age is decreasing in some countries. The practice has been linked in some countries with rites of passage for women.
FGM is usually performed by traditional practitioners using a sharp object such as a knife, a razor blade or broken glass. There is also evidence of an increase in the performance of FGM by medical personnel. However, medicalisation of FGM is denounced by the World Health Organisation.
Nigeria, due to its large population, has the highest absolute number of female genital mutilation worldwide, accounting for about one-quarter of the estimated 115–130 million circumcised women in the world. In Nigeria, FGM has the highest prevalence in the south-south about (77% among adult women), followed by the south east with about (68%) and south west (65%), but practiced on a smaller scale in the north. Nigeria has a population of over 150 million people with the women population forming about 52%. The national prevalence rate of FGM is about 41% among adult women. Prevalence rates progressively decline in the young age groups and about 37% of circumcised women do not want FGM to continue.
A further survey carried out showed that about 61% of women who do not want FGM said it is a bad tradition and about 22% said it is against religion. Other reasons cited were medical complications (22%), painful personal experience (10%), and the view that FGM is against the dignity of women (10%). However, there is still considerable support for the practice in areas where it is deeply rooted. Its origin is one that is unfounded and shrouded in false belief. It is a practice that began as a measure to cut down promiscuity among teenage girls, and as a rite of passage into womanhood.
There are four known types of FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION in Nigeria.
- Clitoridectomy or Type I (the least severe form of the practice): It involves the removal of the prepuce or the hood of the clitoris and all or part of the clitoris. In Nigeria, this usually involves excision of only a part of the clitoris.
- “sunna” or Type II is a more severe practice that involves the removal of the clitoris along with partial or total excision of the labia minora. Type I and Type II are more widespread but less harmful compared to Type III.
- Type III (infibulation) is the most severe form of FGM. It involves the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and adjacent medial part of the labia majora and the stitching of the vaginal orifice, leaving an opening of the size of a pin head to allow for menstrual flow or urine.
- Type IV or other unclassified types recognized by include introcision and gishiri cuts, pricking, piercing, or incision of the clitoris and/or labia, scraping and/or cutting of the vagina (angrya cuts), stretching the clitoris and/or labia, cauterization, the introduction of corrosive substances and herbs in the vagina, and other forms.
It is necessary that laws abolishing such practices should be put down, and steps taken to ensure female children are protected from this inhumane rite of passage ceremony. Join the fight against Female Genital Multilation it concerns everyone, and a collective agreement will propell its end faster .
Worthy of note is:
- The practice has no health benefits for girls and women.
- FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
- FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
- WHO is opposed to all forms of FGM, and is opposed to health care providers performing FGM (medicalization of FGM).
- Treatment of health complications of FGM in 27 high prevalence countries costs about 1.4 billion USD per year.