Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a harmful practice that involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Female Genital Mutilation is considered Sexual and Gender-Based Violence because it is usually performed against the will of the girl child and violates their right to make important decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. It violates a person’s rights 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.
Below are five things you should know about the practice of FGM;
- Female Genital Mutilation occurs on every continent and across all cultural, religious, and socio-economic groups.
- FGM has no medical benefits but is associated with many health problems with immediate and long term consequences such as severe bleeding, shock, infection, complications during childbirth, the formation of cysts and abscesses, keloid scar formation, damage to the urethra, sexual dysfunction, hypersensitivity of the genital area, and increased risk of HIV transmission, as well as psychological effects.
- More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia where FGM is concentrated.
- Osun State has the highest number of females who have experienced FGM. At least 20 million Nigerian females have had their genitals mutilated.
- Female Genital Mutilation is more prevalent in the South-South, South-west, and Eastern part of Nigeria. Northern Nigeria has a prevalence of FGM below 1%.
FGM also causes girls to drop out of school – which in turn leads to early marriage and teenage pregnancy.
In most African countries, a mother’s level of education is a determining factor in whether her daughters will be cut. The usual expectation is that a higher level of education is linked to a lower likelihood of FGM.
According to 28toomany.org, Nigerian women aged 15–49 with no education are the least likely to have undergone FGM (11.6%). Prevalence is highest (24.3%) among women with a primary-level education, and reduces among those with secondary or higher levels of education.
Female Genital Mutilation has no benefit whatsoever but only harms the girl child and prevents her from living a full life. It is time to end the outdated attitudes that allow this harmful practice to continue.
Thankfully, many people are beginning to understand why FGM is wrong and why it must be stopped but there are still many rivers to cross before the practices of FGM truly cease in many parts of Nigeria and Africa as a whole and that is why we must continue to educate and advocate against Female Genital Mutilation.