Female Genital Mutilation is not a Gift to Womanhood

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Tools
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Tools

“My daughter will never be promiscuous in my own house. I will not allow the calamity that befell our neighbor Adibe to come near my home.

See all the children his daughters gave birth to in his house. Who wants to marry them now”? Mr. Okoro rants on and on while his wife kept pleading for her 10 year old daughter who has just experienced her first menstrual cycle as she wonders why ifeoma’s flower would come this early, unlike hers that started at age of 16, at least she was strong enough to bear the pain then. How can her tender child be exposed to such agony. “My dear husband”, she pleaded, ‘this practice of cutting the genitals is outdated and can cause damage to the girl child.

It’s not for the children of this generation. Do you want your child to grow up hating you? Please allow her to grow and mature the right way. We can guide her aright as she matures instead of mutilating her. ‘We are better educated to know what’s best for our children’ She cried. “Woman, this is not a crying matter. We are talking of traditions here. This is what helped you, your mother and other mothers before them. That is why they stayed in marriage. Do you think I would have married you if you had not undergone circumcision?

The above interaction was between husband and wife whose daughter was about undergoing genital mutilation. Female Genital Mutilation is not a gift but a form of molestation, deprivation and violation of girl child. How can it be a gift when it is depriving one from enjoying God’s free gift and predisposing them to infection? It is disheartening and very annoying to hear some of the reasons behind this unfortunate practice. This practice has continued to thrive despite recent laws enacted against it. Child marriage and female genital mutilation are two dominant dangerous issues facing girl child especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. The girl child is the most vulnerable of the human species and needs to be protected.

The argument above is regularly seen in many families and very disturbing to know that about 20 million Nigerian girls have gone through genital mutilation as at 2018, even in this age of enlightenment. This practice cut across tribes, religions and geographical locations but is most popular in Osun, Ebonyi and Imo states. From available data, 24 percent of women and girls in Nigeria age 15-48 years have been mutilated. In Osun, more than 90% of girls are mutilated before the age of five, some as early as 8 days old on the naming day.

Female Genital Mutilation according to World Health Organization involves partial or total removal of female external gentalia or other injury to the genitalia for non-medical reasons. This practice in Nigeria has persisted due to some religious and cultural myths of being able to bear children, rite of passage into adulthood, curb illicit sexual appetite in women and girls, ensuring faithfulness in marriage. A friend once confided in me that she had her clitoris cut off as a child and that she hates mating with her husband and often feels like he is intruding into her body.

The effects of genital mutilation are very discomforting, affecting the physical, psychological and social well-being of the victims. It violates their rights as women and impinges on their sexuality and reproductive health. It has contributed to increased maternal mortalities, vesico and recto vaginal fistulas due to obstructed labour. Many Women are experiencing excruciating labour pain, frigidity, painful urination and menstruation from sutured vagina being sources of dreadful hepatitis and HIV infections and many other complications.

This practice is illegal in Nigeria as Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, which “seeks to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation as well as all other forms of gender-based violence” was enacted into law in 2015. There is punishment for people who commit this offence and or encourage others to commit same.

A number of people accept it as a tradition that transcends generations and has become their cultural heritage. On this International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, I adjourn everyone to shun such practices and discourage it as well. It has not helped anyone, rather it has killed, maimed, disfigured and completely destroyed the lives of would be prominent Nigerian women and girls, who could not have stopped the decisions fueled by gender inequalities and patriarchal tendencies in our society.

Obi Amarachukwu Lois
Writes via tasielois360@gmail.com

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