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Combating Female Genital Mutilation

By definition, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is “all procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs, whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reasons”, (World Health Organization (WHO)). Its origin and significance is shrouded in secrecy, uncertainty and fraught with controversy.

In certain parts of Nigeria, Female Genital Mutilation is seen as tradition, something that needs to be done to save the dignity of a family. After all, what’s worse than a pregnant unmarried daughter? I remember sitting rapt as my grandmother told me the story of her circumcision. She narrated how her aunties and neighbors waited for her mother to leave for the market and then kidnapped and forcefully circumcised her before sending her home. As horrifying as the story was to me, I wasn’t truly surprised because this happened eons ago and things like that don’t happen anymore . . . right? Wrong.

FGM has the highest prevalence in the south-south region of Nigeria (77%) (Among adult women), followed by the south east (68%) and south west (65%). However, it is practiced on a smaller scale in the north.

Despite the increased international and national attention, FGM is still an issue in present day Nigeria. Adverse consequences of FGM are: shock from pain and hemorrhage, infection, acute urinary retention, damage to the urethra or anus (in the struggle of the victim during the procedure), chronic pelvic infection, acquired gynatresia resulting in hematocolpos, vulval adhesions, dysmenorrhea, retention cysts, and sexual difficulties with anorgasmia, cysts, keloids, complications during pregnancy, increased risk of maternal mortality and sexual dysfunction. The mental and psychological agony that comes with FGM is deemed the most serious complication. It does not manifest outwardly for help to be offered. After the ritual the young girl dreads sex because of anticipated pain and dreads childbirth because of complications. The procedure has no known health benefit.

I hereby entreat everyone to take an active stance against FGM. Create awareness where you can and in doing so, let us together build a healthier, more glorious Nigeria.

Written By: Enifoghale Agodo

Edited By: Chukwufumnanya Oranye


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