Everything You Should Know about Female Genital Mutilation


My question goes thus; if males are circumcised, then why shouldn’t females be circumcised, after all they propagate gender equality in all sense. The question was accompanied with people murmuring and conceding to the point he just made. One could see the dismayed look on the speaker on the type of question the student asked.

Well, male circumcision and female circumcision are quite different because of the anatomical structures. The male circumcision involves the removal of foreskin while female circumcision involves the removal of the clitoris which stimulates nerve endings. It’s not a gender based equality fight.  I hope that quite answers your question. The speaker answered.

Any other questions bothering you, feel free to ask.

Isn’t it just a clitoris, so what if the clitoris is removed? Is there a medical effect in any sense? Does it stop urine or period?

It’s a part of the anatomical structure of the female reproductive system, Clitoris can be likened to the male organ that stimulate nerve endings and enhances pleasure. It’s a violation of the human right on one’s body to remain unharmed, and unscarred. The medical effects are in various forms from use of unsterilized instruments, uncontrollable bleeding , and infection, The statement “It has more harm than good in the case of genital mutilation holds no water. It basically has all harm and no good.
And now, we’ve come to the end of the question and answer segment, I sincerely hope we’ve done justice to the individual questions and you’re more enlightened on the subject of Female Genital Mutilation. So go ye into your various local communities and start enlightening them on the danger of genital mutilation. The speaker concluded.

The Stand to End Female Genital Mutilation initiative conceived by JCIUI (Junior Chamber International University of Ibadan Chapter) to create awareness on genital mutilation and sensitize people on dangers inherent in the practice witnessed a massive turn around by the students. The various questions asked, the silent albeit loud whispering, brought one transient detail into limelight, “IGNORANCE” supposedly from people who are being educated in the four walls of the school. If people supposedly receiving knowledge in character and learning are that clueless and unaware, then what hope do the unlearned people who are neither enlightened, have no opportunities to, lack basic education about female gender mutilation?

Some individuals don’t even know what a Clitoris is, its importance and why it should exist. One could hear the silent albeit loud whispers of a girl saying “What is a clitoris? And how do I know if I have clitoris or not, or it has been circumcised”

The events unfolding revealed a lot about the true ignorance the students possess and their justification of this self-possessed ignorance. How then do we expect these students to properly create awareness, sensitize the local communities on dangers inherently associated with genital mutilation? Ignorance is no bliss. It’s not okay not to know, but it starts getting better when one truly seeks out to know more. Here’s to fully sensitize the youth to know more about FGM (Female Genital Mutilation).  

Female Genital Mutilation is a global issue commonly practiced in Africa and Middle East.  According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2013, one in four women, aged between 15 – 49 years has been circumcised.  FGM is hugely practiced in local communities. In Yoruba, it is called “Di dabe fun omo obinrin”, in ibo, it is “Ibi Nwanyi Ugwu” while in Hausa, it is “Kaciyan mata”.

What is Female Genital Mutilation?
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a social norm and tradition that has prevailed over the years. According to World Health Organization (WHO) it includes all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the External Female Genitalia for cultural or non-medical reasons. FGM is also commonly called Female circumcision but however does not fully explain the act; thus leading to another question;

External Female Genitalia?
This includes the reproductive part of the female body. It includes the outer lips (labia majora), inner lips (labia minora) and the clitoris, a small and sensitive organ on top of the inner lips.

What part of the female genitalia is cut off during FGM?
This hugely depends on the type of FGM being performed, and it varies from communities to communities.
Type I, Also called CLITORIDECTOMY. It involves the removal of the prepuce, with or without cutting all or part of the clitoris.
Type II, also called EXCISION. It involves the complete removal of the clitoris with total or partial removal of the inner lips (labia minora) of the vagina.
Type III, also called INFIBULATION. It involves the removal of part or all of the external genitalia and the vaginal opening is stitched allowing for a small space where urine and menstruation can pass through. This is the most dangerous FGM type. Surgeries are usually done on the woman before and after sexual intercourse and childbirth to open and close the vagina.
Type IV, the unclassified type. It involves piercing, scrapping, pricking or making of incision on the clitoris and/or the vagina lops. Harsh substances and herbs are also introduced into the vagina.

Gory details, yes. These are what most girl children have to go through. Some girls are circumcised on the eighth day of their birth, or before age five. Others undergo it before they transit out of adolescence. Sadly, there are cultures that perform it on women few weeks before their marriage.

Who performs FGM and how exactly is FGM done?
FGM are carried out by Traditional Circumcisers, Traditional Birth Attendants and health workers such as Midwives and Community Health Extension workers
The procedure is done using crude tools like knives or scissors made by local blacksmiths. Some use razors or other sharp object. Sedatives and disinfectants are not usually used. Most times, the objects used are unsterilized. The girl is held down by circumciser, sometimes with assistance, and then the act is done.  

Why do people perform FGM on girls and women? Its Myth and Fact
Myth; to respect and preserve culture on female circumcision
Fact; culture is not static; FGM is one culture that should be discontinued.

Myth; FGM prevent promiscuity and preserve virginity until marriage
Fact; FGM has nothing to do with reducing promiscuity, deciding to be sexually responsible is a personal decision.

Myth; to perform rites of passage to initiate the girl into womanhood
Fact; FGM creates a more emotional trauma for girls.

Myth; FGM make the female external genitalia beautiful and clean
Fact; FGM results to markings and scarring, through piercing and making incision with crude instruments.

Myth; FGM prevents the clitoris from getting bigger to compete with male organ
Fact; like every part of the body, the clitoris grows, but it remains small throughout life.

Myth; a woman who fails to be circumcised will not conceive children
Fact; infertility can be caused by numerous factors, becoming circumcised does not make a woman suddenly fertile.

Effects of FGM on girls and women
There are immediate and long term effects associated with FGM
Immediate Effect of FGM
During the time when the act is being performed, victims may experience
·         Intense shock,
·         Uncontrollable bleeding  causing infection
·         Severe pain leading to death
·         Tetanus infection
·         Hepatitis B and even HIV/AIDS when unsterilized objects are used.

Long term Effect of FGM

·         Painful urination and painful menstrual period flow for victims of Type III FGM
·         Painful and unappealing sex due to the damage of female genitalia
·         Difficulties during childbirth
·         Bladder and urinary tract infection

Psychologically, it leads to low self-esteem, phobia, frigidity, a feeling of incompleteness and depression in the victims.

FGM is rooted in socio-cultural norms and context with no verifiable health benefits. The practice violates the rights of women and girls to ; Physical and mental integrity, freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex, freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments and right to life (when the procedure results to death). With a well-informed mind comes responsibility.  The onus lies on us to serve as agent of positive impact to our various communities. The duty to create awareness on the dangers of FGM, affirming the importance of putting an end to FGM, empowering communities on cultural shifts that will lead to an end to FGM.