As Nigeria launches the National Response to Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation, UNICEF has disclosed that an estimated 1.9 million women in the country have undergone the female genital mutilation / cutting procedure.
In a statement issued by UNICEF in Abuja yesterday at a press conference on the launch, it said that FGM is an extremely harmful traditional practice documented in Nigeria and 28 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
According to UNICEF- Nigeria Country Representative, Ms Jean Gough, “no one of the myths surrounding this practice has any basis in truth, adding that the only truth is that on every level this is a harmful and brutal practice that is detrimental to the health and rights of women and girls.’’
The United Nations Fund for Population Activities, UNFPA Nigeria Representative, Mrs. Ratidzai Ndhlova, “FGM is an extreme form of violence against women and girls,” adding that it violates the reproductive rights and the bodily integrity.
“To end this harmful practice, we must understand not only where and how it is practiced, but also the social dynamics that perpetrate it,so we can use that knowledge to persuade practitioners to end the practice,” Ndhlova said.
FGM is prevalence in six states namely, Osun, Imo, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Lagos and Oyo with an average of six out of every ten women 15 to 49 years who has undergone it.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Health has warned against medicalisation of FGM as it raised concerns about health workers aiding communities and families practising it.
Dr Christopher Ugboko, head of gender, adolescence and elderly at the federal health ministry, at a press briefing ahead of the launch of a national launch toward ending FGM within a generation, said the ministry was against the “medicalisation” of FGM which is dangerous and unhygienic, adding that it is of no medical value.
Ugboke said,”Some doctors say, ‘ok we are going to provide hygienic conditions for doing it’. We are asking SOGON [the Society for Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Nigeria] to know that the practice is inhuman. It should not be done, whether hygienic or not.”
Nkiru Igbelina-Igbokwe, gender specialist with the United Nations Population Fund, called medicalised FGM “another height” of the practice, insisting doctors and nurses have no business cutting girls regardless of hygiene conditions.
“It is a gross violation of a woman’s right to health, bodily integrity, freedom from torture,” said Igbelina-Igbokwe.
Ongoing campaign also seeks to make FGM unprofitable in communities where individuals consider it a source of income.
The action to end FGM follows a survey of six states where the practice is most prevalent, including Imo, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Ebonyi and Lagos, where on average six out of every 10 women aged 15 – 49 undergo female genital mutilation.

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