Where FGM HAPPENS
WHAT IS FGM?
Female Genital Mutilation (often referred to as FGM) is a destructive operation, during which the female genitals are partly or entirely removed or injured. Most often the mutilation is performed before puberty, often on girls between the age of four and eight, adolescent girls and recently, it is increasingly performed on babies who are only a couple of days, weeks or months old.
WHERE DOES FGM HAPPEN?
Female Genital Mutilation happens primarily in Africa, in particular in North-Eastern, Eastern and Western Africa. However, it also takes place in the Middle East, in South-East Asia – and also among immigrants in Europe. According to estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) over 200 million women are affected by FGM worldwide. In Europe, the number of mutilated women or girls and women threatened by FGM amounts up to 1 000 000. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), often called, ‘Female Circumcision,’ is an unhealthy religio-cultural practice that is endangering the lives of Nigerian girls and women. With a population of almost 200 million people in Nigeria and an annual growth rate of 1.5%, more than half are women. As Africans, particularly in Nigeria, we hold our culture and traditions with high reverence and as such we still practice FGM in most states in Nigeria. According to the UN, violence against women is defined as “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering for women including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”. FGM is categorized as GBV.
It is estimated that 27% of Nigerian women are victims of FGM and 20 million of them have undergone FGM – this represents 10% of the global total.
In February 2019, UNICEF disclosed that, “Statistics indicate that Nigeria ranks third highest among practicing countries in the world.”
Importantly, many Nigerians are NOT AWARE that the health problems their girls and women experience later in life are caused by FGM. Some of these problems are:
- Problems passing urine or incontinence
- Menstrual problems
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Repeated infections, which can lead to infertility
- Psychological trauma (depression, flashbacks and self-harm)
- Prolonged labour
- Complications in childbirth
- Tearing during delivery
- Obstetric fistula etc.
This goes to state that FGM is a deep-rooted problem in Nigeria and worse, the prohibition (by law) is more like a ‘toothless bulldog’ because it has done little to tackle the prevalence. There is an urgent need for this conference to address the religio-cultural myths, complications and criminality of FGM.
SHORT PROFILE OF STATES WITH THE HIGHEST RATES OF FGM
- Ondo State: It is really surprising how no credible data is captured on the prevalence of FGM in this State. One fact though is that Ondo has a very high rate of FGM.
The wife of the Ondo State governor, Betty Akeredolu, is in the fore on the fight against FGM.
- Ekiti State: Like her sister-state, this is one of the States with the highest rate of FGM in Nigeria. Ekiti is actually the third State with the highest prevalence.
The good news is that the wife of Ekiti State Governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, is anti-FGM. She is an outspoken critic of FGM.
- Osun State: It’s shocking that the United Nations Population Fund disclosedthat Osun State has the highest prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria with over 76.3 per cent. This is to say it is the ‘No. 1’ State with the highest rate of FGM.
- Oyo State: FGM is still being practiced in many parts of Oyo and it is the 5th State with 66% prevalence of FGM.
- Lagos State: Like Ondo State, it’s surprising how no data on the prevalence of FGM in Lagos is available. But fact is, it is, very prevalent herein with a high record on the ‘medicalisation of FGM’ in hospitals by medical doctors. Lagos State has played host to lots of FGM events when Mrs Ambode was the first lady.
- Ogun State: Though the Ijebu people don’t practise FGM but some other communities do. Ms Sylvia Chioma travelled with Barrister Yemi to wade in and sensitize a community in Abeokuta who were bent on circumcising their ‘9 years old daughter’.
FGM is widely practiced in the North as well especially in Borno State, among the Kanuris, Niger, Kogi and other Northern States.
It is also highly prevalent in Edo, Rivers, Cross-River and in the East, with Ebonyi having the highest rate from that region.
It is practiced among the locals in the FCT too, although statistics are currently unavailable because cases are often unreported or underreported.
There are currently ten States that have domesticated the VAPP (law prohibiting FGM). The States are:
The FCT is yet to domesticate and implement the VAPP law. Hence, there is an urgent need for this conference.