Stop Female Genital Mutilation Now


Despite international efforts since the 1970s to dissuade practitioners of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to abandon the practice, cases of the primitive practice are still prevalent in our society.
FGM, according to World Health Organisation and UNICEF, is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, FGM is conducted from days after birth to puberty and beyond. It involves removal of the clitoral hood and glans removal of the inner and outer labia and closure of the vulva.
Ostensibly, this practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women’s sexuality, and wrong notions about purity, modesty and beauty. However, this exposes the girl child to health hazards ranging from severe bleeding, low sexual urge, recurrent infections, difficulty in urinating and passing menstrual flow, chronic pain, development of cysts and to an extent, inability to get pregnant and complications during childbirth.
Regrettably, there are no known health or medical benefits of the practice. That is why The Tide is alarmed and worried about last week’s alert by the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) that the primitive practice was still on the increase in parts of Rivers State.
According to the FIDA Chairman in the State, Tonia Osademe, the practice is still prevalent in Abua/Odual Local Government Area, while other stakeholders said Ahoada West and Oyigbo Local Government Areas, among others, also witness unreported cases of FGM.
The Tide is concerned that despite rigorous advocacy and campaigns against the FGM, some people are still bent on engaging in the outlawed and primitive practice. More worrisome were reports that in cases where such practices were reported to law enforcement agencies, little or no actions were taken to bring perpetrators to book.
Since 2010, the United Nations has called upon healthcare providers to stop performing all forms of FGM procedure, including reinfibulation after childbirth and symbolic nicking of the clitoral hood. In fact, in December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (Res L21 revision 1) calling on states to implement laws eliminating FGM, among several other recommendations.
It is sad to note, however, that despite the passage of the Child Rights Law and its domestication in the state, the law and resolutions against FGM appear to have been observed in the breach, while the repugnable practice still persists in our society, even Rivers State.
We, therefore, call for immediate end to this barbaric practice in our society due to the health and psychological implications on the female child. The practice is not only primitive and unsafe, but also inhuman. It is alien to the medical world and out of sync with the modern age. Nigeria, particularly, Rivers State, must not be seen to be living in Stone Age era.
It is, indeed, sad and condemnable that this practice is being encouraged by the women folk. A situation where parents, particularly mothers, force their female children to undergo FGM despite their opposition and resistance is repugnant and must be condemned by all and sundry.
We, therefore, urge the society to take up the gauntlet, fight the despicable practice and protect the female child from this inhuman treatment. The Child Rights Law and resolutions against FGM must be given the teeth to bite offenders.
While we expect the law enforcement agents to always follow up reported cases and bring to book individuals found culpable, in order to serve as deterrent to others, we also call on community leaders, traditional and religious institutions and government agencies to take positions against FGM and act decisively to stop the obnoxious practice.
It is also pertinent for the media and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), to get involved through sustained campaigns and sensitizations in order to expose the risks and dangers of FGM to the people.
We believe that FGM, even if fashionable in the society in years of yore, belongs to the past and the time to eliminate all vestiges of the primitive practice is now.