FGM/C in Nigeria
Female Genital Mutilation/Circumcision involves the partial or complete removal of female genitalia for non-medical reasons (WHO 2008:4; Black and Debelle 1996).
Recent estimates suggest that at least 200 million women and girls around the world have undergone FGM/C (UNICEF 2016).
The majority of those affected by, or at risk of the practice, live in Africa and Asia.
FGM/C in Nigeria
One of the countries with high FGM/C prevalence is Nigeria. The country is home to over 180 million people, 49.4% of whom are female (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2017). It is estimated that 19.9 million women undergo FGM/C in Nigeria every year (Shell-Duncan, Naik, and Feldman-Jacobs 2016), making it the country with the third largest incidences of FGM in the world.
According to the Demographic and Health Surveys, 2013, the prevalence rate of FGM/C in Nigeria is highest in Osun state (77%) followed by Ebonyi State (74%), Ekiti State (72%), Imo state (68%) and Oyo state (66%).
FGM/C in Osun State
Osun State ranks highest in the prevalence rate of Female Genital Mutilation/Circumcision (FGM/C) in South West, Nigeria.
Majority of the girls are cut before the age of 5 while others are cut as early as 8 days old. The practise of FGM/C in the state is carried out majorly by local cutters although some hospitals also participate in the injurious act.
There have been multiple interventions in the state involving stakeholders including the government, media, traditional birth attendants and religious organizations to end the FGM/C menace, but the practice which is rooted in traditional beliefs and ideologies continue to ravage the state despite 88% of women and 94% of men across religions saying that religion does not require it (NDHS, 2013).
The most widely believed myth is that uncut girls are more likely to be promiscuous while some other beliefs state that an uncut woman’s clitoris will grow bigger until it begins to drag on the ground.
FGM/C in Ekiti State
Ekiti State is the state with the second-highest incidence of FGM/C cases in south-western Nigeria.
Despite the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP), which aims to eliminate gender-based violence in private and public life by criminalising and punishing perpetrators of various wrongful acts including FGM/C, the practice is still being executed especially in rural communities. As in other states with high prevalence, the practice is based on local beliefs and traditional ideologies as opposed to sound medical advice.
The practice of FGM/C is a long-standing tradition in some cultures where it is believed to be infallible and required as a rite of passage for young girls. In some cultures, it is believed that a woman will not be married if she has not been cut. Hence the act becomes a norm for every family on the female child.
The practice is usually carried out by local/traditional cutters in communities who use knives, razor blades or other tools to carry out this practice. In some cases, it is performed by a family member while in some cases, nurses, midwives and other professional health workers who subscribe to the practice act as perpetrators.
FGM/C is recognized internationally as an act that violates the human rights of women and girls and promotes discrimination against the female gender. In countries like the United States, France, Kenya and Senegal, it is illegal to perform FGM/C.
FGM/C in Oyo State
According to the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), 2013, Oyo state has an incidence of 66% of cases of Female Genital Mutilation among women and girls aged 15-49 in the state.
Majority of the perpetrators of this heinous act believe it is required to tame the sexual urges of the woman which, they believe, are secondary to the man’s sexual needs. Usually the act is executed on young girls under five years of age by traditional excisors, nurses, midwives and in some cases, doctors who hold the tradition in high esteem despite the proven medical and psychological trauma.
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