Thursday, September 12, 2013


Female genital mutilation sometimes called female circumcision is one of the traditional practices that are deeply entrenched in many cultures and traditions worldwide with the practice more prominent in Africa including Nigeria.
The practice involves the partial removal of the external female genitals for either cultural or religious reasons.
There are so many beliefs that are attributed to the significance of female genital mutilation in Nigeria.
For instance, in the northern part of the country, it is believed that female genital mutilation makes the girl more fertile and aid easy delivery.
Also, among some Igbo tribes, a female is not regarded as a woman until she undergoes female genital mutilation, as she has attained high social status compared to her uncircumcised colleagues.
But the most popular reason for this practice is to make the female to live a chaste life before and after marriage which will in turn reduce level of promiscuity.
A recent report by the world health organization claimed that women who undergo circumcision stand greater risk of complications at child birth.
The cases of young girls who bleed to death in the process of circumcision makes the practice very harmful while a greater number of the victims are prone to easy contact of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, aids, as traditional surgeons who carry out the circumcision usually use unsterilized utensils like blade, scissors or knives for the exercise.
Female genital mutilation has however, continued to receive global attention as an estimated two million girls are at risk yearly.
In Nigeria, the prevalence rate of female genital mutilation is put between 40% and 50% but reports by United Nations statistics put the female genital mutilation rate at 60%.
Because female genital mutilation is rooted in cultural beliefs, some people have argued that the practice should be kept to sustain Africa’s cultural heritage but it is only wise to retain traditional practices that are edifying while those that are harmful to the victims be discarded.
This explains why the federal government has decided that sixth of February every year should be set aside as a national day for the elimination of female genital mutilation.
Although, there is no federal laws banning female genital mutilation in Nigeria, opponents of this practice rely on section 34 (1)(a) of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria which states that “ no person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment” as the basis for banning the practice nationwide.
According to reports, Ogun, Osun, cross river, rivers, Bayelsa and Edo states have banned the practice since October 1999. Since medical research has shown that nothing good comes out of female genital mutilation, the federal ministry of health must assist other relevant bodies to take the education of the negative consequences of female genital mutilation to the grassroots.
Other states should emulate those that have banned the practice for uniformity.
The mass media should also intensify the campaign against female genital mutilation through their various programmes.
Religious bodies like churches and mosques as well as nongovernmental organizations must also be involved in creating and mounting public enlightenment programmes such as workshops and seminars at the local, state and federal levels with the aim of sensitizing people on the harmful effects and misconception surrounding the practice of female genital mutilation.
The earlier every individual desist from the act, the better it is for improved health of the womenfolk.