Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM has been categorised into four types, ranging from a symbolic prick to the clitoris or prepuce, to the fairly extensive removal and narrowing of the vaginal opening.

The most common form of FGM found in Nigeria is type 3. FGM is sometimes known as ‘female genital cutting’ or female circumcision. Communities tend to use local names for referring to this practice, including ‘sunna’.or katna. FGM represents one of the manifestations of gross gender inequalities depriving a girl, a woman of her integrity and that creates and sustains power imbalances that limit access to opportunities and resources and, prevent girls and women from realizing their rights and full potentials. FGM is considered a grave violation of the rights of girls and women.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 200 million girls and women globally have undergone some form of FGM, a quarter of whom are Nigerians! Three million girls undergo some form of the procedure every year in Africa alone. An additional 2 million girls could undergo FGM by 2030 as a result of COVID-19, on top of the 68 million cases which had previously been anticipated. Girls and women who have undergone FGM live predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab States, but FGM is also practiced in select countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. It is also practiced among migrant populations throughout Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

In Nigeria, FGM has the highest prevalence in the south –south (77%) (among adult women), followed by the south east and south west. The most severe form is practiced in the North which has the lowest prevalence. 

Why Does Fgm Happen:

  • To save a girl for marriage
  • A perceived need to control female sexuality
  • Reasons of family honour/social expectation
  • As a coming-of-age ritual
  • Higher dowries for girls and women seen as more “chaste”
  • Laws protecting girls from FGM aren’t enforced
  • All causes are rooted in gender inequality.

Under General Provisions Of The Nigerian Law Which Apply To All Criminal Offences, It Is An Offence To:

  • Aid, abet, counsel or procure a person to commit an FGM offence; encourage or assist a person to commit an FGM offence;
  • Attempt to commit an FGM offence;
  • Conspire to commit an FGM offence
  • Any person found guilty of such an offence faces the same maximum penalty for these offences under the Child Rights Act and the VAPP law.

Fgm Is Child Abuse/Human Right Violation

Usually, it is a girl’s parents or her extended family who are responsible for arranging FGM. Some of the reasons given for the continued practice of FGM include; protecting family honour, preserving tradition, ensuring a woman’s chastity, cleanliness and as a preparation for marriage. Whilst FGM is often seen as an act of love, rather than cruelty, it causes significant harm and constitutes physical and emotional abuse. FGM is considered to be child abuse and is a violation of the child’s right to life, their bodily integrity as well as their right to health.

Fgm Can Kill

FGM can have serious consequences for a woman’s health and in some instances can lead to death. Infections, severe pain, bleeding and tetanus are just some of the short-term consequences. In the long-term women can suffer pain and discomfort during sex, chronic pain, infection, cysts, abscesses, difficulties with periods and fertility problems. Women also often suffer severe psychological trauma, including flashbacks and depression.

Fgm Can Affect Pregnancy And Childbirth

Women who have had FGM are significantly more likely to experience difficulties during childbirth and their babies are more likely to die as a result of the practice. Serious complications during childbirth include the need to have a caesarean section, dangerously heavy bleeding after the birth of the baby and prolonged hospitalisation following the birth.

Fgm Is Not Supported By Any Religious Doctrine

Female Genital Mutilation is not a religious requirement or obligation. FGM, including a symbolic prick to the clitoris, has no link with Islam and is neither a requirement nor a ‘Sunna’ in Islam. FGM is not condoned by Christian or Jewish teachings, or the Bible or Torah.

What Do You Do If You Are Concerned About Someone Who Is At Risk Of Fgm?

Talk to them about your concerns, but use simple language and straightforward questions; Be sensitive and let them know that they can talk to you again; Consult a child protection advisor and make a referral to children’s social care and/or the police; You can access help and support anonymously from our FGM Helpline on 0702 500 0041 or email: info@wavefdn.org If you are abroad and require help, advice or someone is at imminent risk of FGM, you should contact the police immediately!

What To Do If You Are Worried You May Be At Risk Of Fgm?

Talk to someone you trust, maybe a teacher or a school nurse. They are here to help and protect you. Remember that no-one is allowed to hurt you physically or emotionally, and FGM is not allowed in Nigeria. You can get help. Call our FGM helpline on 0702 500 0041

What To Do If You Have Had Fgm Done?

You can seek medical advice and counselling from specialist health services. There are specialist clinics around and in some of these you can have a reversal procedure.


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