FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION: CULTURE OR CAUTION?

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION: CULTURE OR
CAUTION?
On
New Year’s Eve, while I reclined on the crouch, counting down the New Year,
reminiscing on my past mistakes and achievements in the outgoing year and
setting New Year resolutions for the incoming year. I was watching one of my
favourite television programs on CNN – The Christine Amanpour show. One of
the issues discussed was Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and there were
personal interviews, video clips and images of the horrible act.
Honestly,
I am familiar with the subject matter but the show broadened my perspective, I
had a bitter experience because I could not believe this inhumane act is still
largely in practise.
What is Female Genital Mutilation?
The
World Health Organization defines it as the procedure which involves the
partial or total removal of the external female genitals and/or injury to the
female genital organs, whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic
reasons. Female Genital Mutilation which could also be referred to as Female
Genital Cutting, Female Circumcision and Clitoridectomy can also be described
as the practice of circumcision of adolescent women in some cultures that
generally involves the surgical removal of the clitoris or the sewing up of the
vaginal opening.
It
was estimated that about 140million women and girls were thought to be living
with FGM in the 29 countries in which it is concentrated as of 2014. If the
rate of decline continues, this figure will increase to 196 million by 2050
because of population growth but the shocking revelation is that FGM is widely practised
in Nigeria and we have the highest number of women and girls living with FGM in
the world. An article reports that our country accounts for about one-quarter
of the estimated number of circumcised women worldwide.
Types & Kinds of Female Genital Mutilation
With
extensively research on this inexhaustible subject and related ones, I deduced
that FGM can be grouped into three types or kinds in relation to their
severity. They would be discussed in subsequent paragraphs.
I.
Clitoridectomy– This type of FGM is
the least severe form of the practice. In most cases, it is often referred to
as Type 1; it involves the removal of the hood of the clitoris and all or part
of the clitoris.
II.
Sunna (Type II) is a more severe
practice that involves the removal of the clitoris along with partial or total
excision of the labia minora.
III.
Type III (Infibulation) is the most
severe form of FGM. It involves the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora
and adjacent medial part of the labia majora and the stitching of the vaginal
orifice, leaving an opening of the size of a pin head to allow for menstrual
flow or urine.
No
matter the type or variation, Female Genital Mutilation is recognized worldwide
as a fundamental violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects
deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of
discrimination against women. It involves violation of rights of the children
and violation of a person’s right to health, security, and physical integrity,
the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment,
and the right to life when the procedure results in death. Furthermore, girls
usually undergo the practice without their informed consent, depriving them of
the opportunity to make independent decision about their bodies.
An
estimated 100–140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with
the consequences of FGM. The procedure has no health benefits for girls and
women. Adverse consequences of FGM are shock from pain and haemorrhage,
infection, acute urinary retention to mention a few. Other complications are
implantation desmoids cysts and keloids, and sexual dysfunction.
Female Genital Mutilation & Male Circumcision
Perhaps,
someone might want to know why the attention about Female Genital Mutilation
when greater number of men and boys are subjected to the same agonizing
procedure? Why should we clamour for the elimination of FGM when we are not
doing the same for the boys?
Honestly,
I had similar reservations and it only led to more research and more
understanding of the scourge and why male circumcision is receiving limited
criticism. According to reliable research, the circumcision of male infants
significantly reduces the risk of penile cancer. Several studies of groups of
penile cancer patients in the U.S. have found that very few or none of the
victims were circumcised as infants, an indication that neonatal circumcision
protects against the disease.
Secondly,
Male circumcision is also believed to limit the risk of contacting venereal
diseases. Many studies have shown that uncircumcised men are more likely than
those who are circumcised to suffer from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs),
including gonorrhoea, syphilis, and genital herpes, Human Papillomavirus,
Chlamydia and HIV. Risks for the uncircumcised increased twofold to fivefold
for the range of STDs—and as much as eight times for HIV.
However,
these advantages are been disputed because other factors that would have
influenced the results were neither considered nor examined.
Suggested Solution
Surprisingly,
research points to the fact that the challenge with Female Genital Mutilation
is not the non-availability of adequate laws and legislations to combat the
menace but the willpower to ensure that these laws are enforced to the latter.
Prior to the investigation of this topic, I did not know that a law
criminalizing FGM in Nigeria was enacted and passed during the last
administration of President Goodluck E. Jonathan.
The
second and the most daunting challenge about FGM is that the campaign against
it is not taken to the nooks and crannies of the countries it is widely in
practice and most of the people are ignorant of the consequences of FGM, hence
the continuance of the evil practice. Some believe that it is a practice supported
by both religions but this is largely not true.
Hence,
the need for the massive re-orientation of the people is urgently suggested,
especially in the most far away and remote villages of these African countries
it practice still thrives because there is an important need to be educated on
the damages and dangers FGM does to the victims of such inhumane acts.
Conclusion
When
I was sourcing for information and opinions on the topic, I consulted a handful
of people, I also wrote a letter to the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs
and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) soliciting for research information and
materials on my course of study and related matters which has not been replied.
Interestingly,
I also spoke with my mom and she was more than helpful, she noted that female
circumcision was widely acceptable because of traditional and cultural beliefs
that it promotes sexual purification, chastity, family and moral values and
ultimately reduces promiscuity. Really?
On
20th December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/67/146 in
which it called states, the United Nations system, civil society and all
stakeholders to continue to observe 6th February as the
International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and to use
the day to enhance awareness- raising campaigns and to take concrete actions
against Female Genital Mutilations and I would like to appeal to everyone
reading this piece to ensure that we educate at least 10 people on Female
Genital Mutilation, it damages, dangers and why it has to be completely
eradicated. I promise to talk to at least 10 people on Saturday and I would
like everyone to do the same so that our daughters and grand-daughters would
not be subjected to the same harsh and dehumanizing act our mothers and
grandmothers passed through.
#ITBEGINSWITHYOU

Olusanya, Oluwole Sheriff

Oluwole Olusanya
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues. He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.