The World Health Organisation
(@WHO), defines the term “Female Genital Mutilation” as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female
genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical
are 4 Types of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Type I: partial or total
removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).
Subgroups of Type I FGM are:
type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the
clitoris with the prepuce.
Type II: partial or total
removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the
labia majora (excision).
Subgroups of Type II FGM are:
type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal
of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the
clitoris, labia minora and labia majora.
Type III: narrowing of the
vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning
the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the
Subgroups of Type III FGM are:
type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and
apposition of the labia majora.
Reinfibulation is covered under
this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example
after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.
Type IV: unclassified – all
other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for
example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.
FGM has no benefits rather so many complications which can be early and
Early complications include; excessive bleeding, shock, rib fractures, infections,
Later complications; Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), difficulty
during child birth, Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and so many others.
FGM is fuelled by so many myths
which form the pillars of gender inequality in our society. Gender inequality is the idea and situation
that men and women are not equal. Gender inequality acknowledges the different
treatment or perceptions of individuals wholly or partly due to their gender.
In our society today, women are at the tail end of the gender scale as
the society puts their male counterparts as more important.
In many situations, women and men of equal status may be doing the same
job but the men receive higher pay for the same job. Traditionally, women are raised to see men as
their superiors such that men make major decisions that are binding on the
So many social norms come in place to ensure girls are raised to see men
as their superior as well as work towards being appreciated by them even if
does not serve the girls’ good.
Social norms are defined as the customary rules that govern the
behaviour of groups and societies. They have to do with what communities
believe is morally right and how they expect their members to behave and act. It
is now widely acknowledged that FGM functions as a self-reinforcing social
convention or social norm (UNICEF, 2013).
As a Social Norms, FGM is routed in so many myths and misconceptions, one
of which states that the practice can prevent Promiscuity. This is in a bid to control the sexuality of
these women and girls, so they can be more appreciated by the male folk, although
it is harmful to their health and psychology. One of the consequences of this act is that it
prevents the women that have undergone FGM from attaining sexual pleasure like
their male partner.
Every 7 seconds a girl is cut somewhere in the world all because our
society think it is part of preparing her as a complete woman and marriageable.
FGM as a practice creates the impression that an uncut girl is a misfit
in the society and unable to stay in marriage thus women and girls base their
self-esteem on being cut or uncut. To
avoid the negative label attached to uncut women, and be acceptable to the community;
most women are compelled to succumb to being cut against their will.
In sustaining the practice of FGM, its harmful effects on girls and
women are not put in to consideration, as well as its potential to disrupt their
In some practicing communities, many men insist on marrying cut women
and even go to the extent of insisting their wives who may not have been cut
should be cut.
Women and girls suffer so much at every stage of their lives from the
complications of FGM, but endure the pains in silence because FGM, like other
social norms, is embedded in a culture of silence.
FGM is one of the strong pillars of gender inequality. If we must achieve #SDG5.3, which is to
eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and FGM,
then we must #endcuttinggirls.
To achieve SDG 5.3, UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on the elimination of
FGM, and other international organisations, have taken it up as a clarion call
to end all forms of gender inequality including FGM. This further emphasizes the need for more
advocacy to all relevant stakeholders on the #EndFGM campaign
27. Women and girls need to know they are beautiful the way God created
them. They need to be empowered to
recognise FGM as a form of Gender inequality and also reject it. The UN Joint
Programme is doing this in Nigeria.
Given that FGM thrives in most patriarchal societies, it is important to
involve men in the campaign to end FGM. The UN Joint Programme is doing this in
Nigeria by supporting “Men Engage Alliances” on ending FGM.
There is need for anti-FGM laws to become fully operational in
protecting women/girls; a case study is the arrest and prosecution of FGM
offenders by the Ebonyi State Government in November 2015.
In addition, Community sanctions should be put in place to deter
community members from engage in the practice of FGM, which is harmful to
girls/women. Community leaders should be
educated and made to recognise FGM as a form of Gender inequality, to that it
can be abolished as a cultural practice in the practicing communities’. FGM is
included in the Nigeria school curriculum as a harmful traditional
practice. However, we need to enhance
the teacher’s knowledge about FGM, to enable them to recognise FGM as a form of
There is need to train and re-orient circumcisers in other jobs
especially those who use cutting as means of livelihood to enable them
recognise that they are breaking the anti-FGM laws. There is need for to improve the capacity of
service providers to meet the health, social and legal needs of FGM survivors.
The UN Joint Programme is doing this in Nigeria.
FGM survivors should also be referred to centres for reconstruction
surgeries and supported to receive services in places such as the National
Obstetrics and Fistula Centre, (NOFIC) Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
There is need to train and re-orient health workers on the dangers of
medicalization of FGM. They also need to be supported to become advocates in
the campaign to end FGM.
FGM survivors can be trained to become #endcuttinggirls advocates.