Society of Gynecology and Obstetricians of Nigeria, SOGON, had last November described Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, as fundamental instruments of infringement of female reproductive rights. According to the society, the dangers inherent in the practice are contributing factors to fistula and maternal mortality in the country. In this report, senior Crime correspondent, IORAKPEN ISHU-JOSEF, looks at some of the dangers of FGM.
SOGON President, Prof Joseph Adinma, while briefing newsmen at the end of the association’s 50th anniversary and 49th Annual General Meeting in Abuja last November, expressed concern that a lot of Nigerians indulge in the practice out of ignorance and belief without knowing the dangers inherent in it.
Adinma said, “The practice is carried out with the intention to dominate, subordinate and make women feel inferior or incomplete,” he said, adding that Nigeria contributes 25 per cent of the global burden of female genital mutilation.
He said Nigeria had assented to the global decision to promote, protect and uplift women sexual and reproductive rights, adding that the only way to achieve this was through advocacy.
He said advocacy and public enlightenment on the consequences of FGM was the best way to curtail the practice.
“It is our responsibility to give people correct information. Part of the package under our advocacy instruments is to reach out to the nooks and crannies of the country to inform the people of the dangers inherent in the practice,’’ he said.
Last September, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, in collaboration with Imo State office of the National Orientation Agency, NOA, organised a sensitisation workshop in Ikeduru local government area of the state, geared towards exposing the dangers of female genital mutilation.
Delivering a keynote address, the state NOA Director, Mr. Virus Ekeocha, recalled with glee that the United Nations general assembly had passed a resolution to support government, communities, girls and women concerned, towards the abandonment of female genital mutilation.
According to the Imo NOA boss, the World Health Organisation, WHO, defined female genital mutilation as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organ for non-medical reasons. Often, instruments used are crude and unsterilised, thereby endangering the women’s health.
Mr. Ekeocha disclosed that there are about six states in Nigeria that still practice female genital mutilation, including Imo State, stressing that UNICEF and NOA decided to move the sensitisation programme to Ikeduru because it was among the few local council areas of the state, with high prevalence rate of the female genital mutilation practice.
“Some of the major reasons for the persistence of female genital mutilation in Nigerian communities are rooted in culture and tradition. This has regrettably done more harm than good and this is why we are trying to positively engage the stakeholders in Imo communities with a view to shifting these ugly social norms”, Ekeocha said.
On why UNICEF and NOA decided to adopt this technique, apart from just enforcing the existing laws, Mr. Ekeocha explained that it was a very critical component for the crusade to eradicate female genital mutilation in Nigeria. A resource person from a non-governmental UNICEF assisted body, Mr. Benjamin Mbakwem, identified four times of genital mutilation and the dangers associated with.
“They include severe bleeding, shock, leakage of urine and faeces, complications at childbirth, mental failure. It must also be said that circumcision or female genital mutilation ameliorates promiscuity”, Mbakwem said.
While Mbakwem argued that promiscuity largely stems from orientation rather than the non-tampering with the female genitals, Mrs. Thecular Ejionye, of the State Ministry of Health, was of the opinion that female circumcision constitutes violence against women and urged future generations to stoutly resist the culture.
Speaking also, a Child Rights Advocate and UNICEF Consultant, Mr. Vitalis Ekwem, extensively quoted from the Child Rights Law of 2004, the 1999 Constitution and other relevant documents to lend credence to the crusade against the female genital mutilation. South East Voice recalls that royal fathers, who are the custodians of the people’s culture and tradition, civil society groups, faith based organisations, youth groups, religious leaders, teachers, women groups, town union executives and other stakeholders, were part of the exercise.
One of the highlights of the workshop was a resolution in favour of the abandonment of female genital mutilation, but whether this resolution would be carried out to the letter remains a matter for speculation.

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