Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), popularly known as female circumcision, is the cultural practice of partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. It includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
FGM is performed on infants, girls, and women of all ages, depending on where it is done. The age at which girls are cut can vary widely from country to country, and even within countries. Most often, it happens before a girl attains puberty. Sometimes, however, it is done just before marriage or during a woman’s first pregnancy.
In Egypt, about 90% of girls are cut between 5 and 14 years old. Research has shown that the average age at which a girl undergoes FGM is decreasing in some countries, such as Burkina Faso, Co’t d’ Ivoire, Kenya and Mali.
The reasoning is that with more awareness and legislation, more girls and women deliberately opt out of it, leaving only the ignorant and the under-age at the mercy of the practice.
Researchers also think it is possible that the average age of FGM is getting lower so that it can be more easily hidden from authorities in countries where there may be laws against it. It is also widely believed that FGM is performed on younger girls because they are less able to resist.
There are four notable types of FGM . They are: Type 1, called clitoridectomy. It is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce, the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris is left. This is also called Sunna Circumcision, it is the least mutilating of all.
In Type 2, known as excision, the clitoris and part of the labia are excised and then sewn together by sutures, thorns, or tying the girl’s legs together until the edges have united.
Type 3, called infibulations, or pharaonic, is the most extreme. In this case, the clitoris, labia minora are excised and incisions made in the labia majora to create raw surfaces that are then either stitched together or kept in close contact until they seal and form a cover for the urethrae meatus. A very small orifice is left for the passage of urine and menstrual flow.
Due to the fact that this type is the most mutilating, the medical, obstetrical and psychological complications are more profound. In many regions, it is the most common procedure performed.
Type 4, regarded as any other form, includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes. Examples are pricking , piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
FGM is practiced in 30 countries in Western, Eastern, and North Eastern Africa, in parts of the middle East and Asia, and within some immigrant communities in Europe, North America and Australia.
A recent UNICEF report states that Egypt has the world’s highest total number with 27.2 million women having undergone FGM, while Somalia has the highest prevalence rate of FGM at 98%.
In July 2003, at its second summit, the African union adopted the Maputo protocol, which promoted women’s rights and called for an end to FGM. The agreement came into force in November 2005, and by December 2008, 25 member countries had ratified it.
According to UNICEF report made available to newsmen, 24 African countries have legislations or decrees against FGM practice. These countries are: Burkina Faso, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana and Guinea.
Others are Guinea-Bissan, Nigeria (some states), Senegal , Somalia, Sudan (some states), Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and South Africa.
Findings across these countries have shown that beyond the institution of legislation, little has been done in terms of enforcement for various reasons, which mostly have to do with the belief system of the people involved. The result is that there have been inconsistencies in the rate of FGM. In most cases, there have, in fact, been an increase in FGM practices, and legislations have been of little or no use in checking the trend.
In Nigeria, a 2008 Demographic and Health survey revealed that 30% of the country’s women have been subjected to FGM. This contrasts with 25% reported by a 1999 survey, and 19% by 2003 survey. This suggests no trend unreliable past or most recent survey data in some regions, as well as the possibility that a number of women are increasingly willing to acknowledge having undergone FGM.
In some parts of Nigeria, the vagina walls are cut in new born girls or other traditional practices performed, such as the angurya and gishiri cuts, which fall under Type IV FGM classification of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Over 80% of all FGMs are performed on girls under one year of age. The prevalence varies with religion in Nigeria: it is prevalent in 31% of Catholics, 27% of protestant and 7% of Muslim women. There is currently no federal law banning the practice of FGM in Nigeria.
Opponents of these practices have hitherto relied on section 34 (1) (a) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that states “no person shall be subjected to torture or Inhuman or degrading treatment” as the basis for banning the practice nationwide.
Consequently, Nigeria ratified the Maputo protocol in 2005. By 2010, 13 states of Nigeria had enacted laws against FGM practice. These states which include Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ogun, Osun and Rivers, are being mocked by those who conduct FGMs and who dare any law enforcement agent to arrest them.
There is however an improvement in the legal backing to the quest to abolish FGM in Nigeria with the passage of the violence Against persons’ prohibition (VAPP) Bill by the Nigerian Senate on May 6, 2015.
There are various reasons behind FGM practice, all of which could be categorized under social, economic, and political. For instance, some of those who support it believe that it will empower their daughters not to be promiscuous and ensure that the girls get married and protect the family’s good name.
In some groups, FGM is performed to show a girls growth into womanhood and, in other cases, it marks the start of a girls sexual debut. It is also performed to keep a woman’s virginity by limiting her sexual behaviour.
In some groups, women who are not cut are viewed as dirty and are stigmatized, discriminated upon, or ostracized. There are also other superstitions beliefs attached to the practice.
In Abu/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria, for instance, the act is carried out seven months of a woman’s first pregnancy. The belief is that if it is not done, the woman and her child would die during delivery.
Others are that the clitoris will continue to grow as a girl gets older and so it must be removed, as well as the one that views external genitalia as being unclean and capable of causing the death of an infant during delivery.
Complications associated with FGM are numerous and could be short-term or long-term. A research carried out by Network of Reproductive Health Journalists in Nigeria (NRHJN), Rivers State chapter, on sixty women and girls in the South-South zone of Nigeria, who have undergone FGM, revealed that about 70% of them were infibulated. Ten percent of them under-went excision, while 20% experienced clitoridectomy.
A particular case of infiblation in the research, which falls under long-term complication, revealed that the woman who was “circumcised” as an infant, currently in her mid-forties, has a growth covering her vagina, making it difficult for her to have sex.
“I first realized the abnormality in my private part when I was in secondary school, about twelve years old. When I enquired from my mother, she explained that it was normal and was in accordance with the belief of our people.
“Years into marriage as a teenager, I noticed a growth gradually covering my vagina, which I must shift before having sexual intercourse. I’ve not been able to get pregnant after over twelve years of marriage”, the woman lamented.
Other common long-term complications include: urinary incontinence, cysts, urogenital track infections, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and obstetrical problems such as delayed or obstructed second stage labour, trauma, and hemorrhage.
The major immediate complications include hemorrhage from the dorsalartery, shock and then infection, urinary retention and tetanus, which can lead to mortality.
Research has also shown that FGM is a key contributor to HIV infection. This is because in most cases the same instruments are used on several girls and women without being sterilized.
In order to check the trend of FGM, much have been postulated, with virtually all relying on specific legislation.
Developments have, howver, shown that there is the need to go beyond coming up with legislation against FGM practice. This is because while legislation is important, the actual willingness to check the practice lies in the conviction of those practicing it to stop it. This can only be achieved when groups, communities , etc practicing FGM own the process.
One way for them to own the process is for key stakeholders, such as traditional rulers, women groups, opinion leaders, etc getting involved in the process of disabusing the minds of their populace about beliefs attached to FGM. By so doing, strict compliance to legislation can be achieved. This is the challenge of truly institutionalising the fight against FGM.
Renew Fight Against HIV/AIDS, EDOSACA Boss Charges Stakeholders
Amidst seeming less attention given to the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS following the emergence of Covid-19, the Executive Director of the Edo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (EDOSACA), Mrs. Flora Edemode Oyakhilome, has called on stakeholders to show more commitment, if the 2030 target of eliminating the epidemic can be achieved.
The EDOSACA boss, who made the call while fielding questions from journalists immediately after the just concluded two-day South-South HIV media roundtable held in Port Harcourt, said the 38th International AIDS Candlelights Memorial was implemented in Edo State.
According to her, the commemoration should serve as a reminder for both those infected and affected, as well as the vulnerable in our society of those who have died as a result of the pandemic.
She stated that the theme for this year’s commemoration, “One Big Fight for Health and Rights of People Living with HIV”, is apt.
“With just nine years to go in the UNAIDS ambitious targets of eliminating HIV/AIDS by the year 2030 through the 95:95:95 strategy aimed at achieving zero new infection by 2030, the well chosen theme for this year’s memorial, which is ‘One Big Fight for Health and Rights of People Living with HIV’, is nothing but a renewed call for girding our loins and redoubling our efforts towards the achievement of this target, especially with globally increasing rates of societal and workplace stigma and discrimination, and domestic gender-based violence, as well other acts of rights denial against People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV).
“The right time is now or never for all soldiers and gatekeepers in the global war against this most lingered pandemic to join efforts, time and resources towards greater outcomes and dividends from this year’s theme, which encapsulates in one dose the non-pharmaceutical panecea against HIV/AIDS”, she said.
Towards this renewed fight, the EDOSACA boss urged stakeholders to turn a new leaf.
“As the event is marked today, all should go into sober reflection over the plight of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, as well as the vulnerable one not yet infected and work towards the mitigation of their sufferings and plan for greater improvement in their living standards through economic and academic empowerment, capacity building, skills aqusition and skills improvement, nutritional support, access to quality health services, free prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) services, free legal aids, etc., especially for Adolescents and Young People (AYP), widows and orphans,” he said.
By: Sogbeba Dokubo
Health Benefits Of Eating Apples (2)
The Antioxidants in Apples May Play a Role in Cancer Prevention. While there’s no one surefire way to prevent cancer, apples could help play a role. “Apples may reduce the risk of certain cancers, which researchers speculate is related to the antioxidants found in apples,” says Anzlovar. Research suggests that apples have a very high level of antioxidants, and in laboratory studies, these antioxidants have been shown to limit cancer cell growth.
A review published in October 2016 in Public Health Nutrition found that eating apples regularly is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including colorectal, oral cavity, esophageal, and breast cancers.
The fiber in apples may provide cancer-preventing perks. A study published in March 2016 in the journal Pediatrics found that women who ate more high-fiber foods during adolescence and young adulthood (especially lots of fruits and vegetables) had a lower breast cancer risk later in life.
And another study, published in January 2019 in the journal The Lancet, found that a diet high in dietary fiber could protect against colorectal cancer and breast cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
6. Apples Can Support Healthy Weight Loss
A diet rich in fruit (and vegetables) can help you maintain a healthy weight — or shed pounds — according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because apples are filled with dietary fiber, they are high on this list. “Fiber slows digestion and the rise of blood sugar, keeping you satiated and less likely to overeat,” says Levinson.
According to that study in The Lancet, people who ate the most fiber had a significantly lower body weight. Research shows that overweight women who ate three apples a day lost 1.22 kg (2.7 pounds) after 12 weeks.
At only 95 calories for a medium-sized apple, this fruit is one you’ll want to keep on hand when sweet cravings strike.
- Apples May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Time to start eating more apples and other flavonoid-rich foods like berries and tea. Research published in August 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults aged 50 and older, who included only a small amount of flavonoid-rich foods like berries, apples, and tea in their diet were a whopping 2 to 4 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and related types of dementia over 20 years compared with people who ate more flavonoid-rich foods.
On top of that, a review published in January 2020 in the journal, Biomolecules, found that quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples, protects neurons from oxidative damage and contains other anti-Alzheimer’s disease properties, too.
By: Kevin Nengia
We Are Supporting States To Intensify Cholera Outbreak Response – NCDC
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it has activated a multi-sectoral National Cholera Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), following an increase in cholera cases across the country.
The NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said this in a statement made available to The Tide in Abuja.
According to a document made available to The Tide states that since the beginning of the 2021, 10,833 suspected cholera cases have been reported with 112 confirmed cases and 289 deaths.
In the last one month, an increasing number of cholera cases has been reported across the states.
The most affected states are Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Zamfara, Bayelsa and Kaduna.
Given the risk of large outbreaks across states, Ihekweazu said that the agency had activated an EOC.
“The EOC is co-led with the Federal Ministries of Environment and Water Resources, given the link between cholera and water, sanitation and hygiene.
“The National EOC has been supporting states to ensure a coordinated, rapid and effective response to the ongoing outbreak.
“This includes the deployment of National Rapid Response Teams (RRT) to support the response at state level, provision of medical and laboratory supplies, scale up of risk communications amongst other activities,” he explained.
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