According to Unicef, this is the number of women and girls in Nigeria who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). While female genital mutilation (FGM) is not exactly taboo in this country, the practice is so common that it is not differentiated from other medical procedures.
Our culture has continually silenced discussions of women’s bodies out of modesty, or women’s sexuality because it is considered too shameful a topic for polite company.
Further reasons given are those that state that females all around the world are frequently viewed as having little control over their bodies, performing a procedure that permanently altering them which is considered acceptable, if not obligatory. The justification for this practice is debatable on all levels, as it has repeatedly been proven to have no health benefits. Culture will continue to propagate and condone the practice as long as it is not condemned thereby permitting its continuity.
Beyond cultural norms, we also need to seek the support of key stakeholders in our communities to put an end to FGM in Nigeria. To this effect, we are engaging policymakers and state actors to help promote the enforcement and implementation of FGM laws and policies, particularly the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act in the 3 states (Osun, Oyo, and Ekiti) where this practice is prevalent.
There are many fronts for this work, just breaking the silence and engaging with people on the topic is already taking many steps forward. However, enforcing existing laws and prosecuting perpetrators would go a long way toward ending FGM by 2030.