Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) includes all
procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or
other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies FGM into
four types, and all four types are all practiced in Nigeria.
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 clitoris
(infibulation). Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and
apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia
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. Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or
applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to
desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of
Nigeria, especially Imo State.
It is estimated that over 200 million girls and
women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM, and every year some 3
million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to its
potential negative health consequences (UNICEF 2016).
In Nigeria, the Multiple
Indicator Cluster Survey (2016-17) revealed that 18.4% of women aged 15-49
years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 27% (2011). Conversely, the FGM prevalence among
daughters (0-14 years) rose from 19.2% (2011) to 25.3% (2016-17).
To discuss properly the role
of traditional Institutions in creating a gender equal world one must first
discuss the definition, emergence and relevance of such institutions.
refers to the indigenous socio-political arrangement whereby leaders with
proven track records are appointed and installed in line with the provisions of
their native laws and customs (Orji & Olali 2010)
Traditional institutions are
agents of maintaining socal equilibrium and building peace of the perspective
societies (Nweke 2012)
These institutions are made up
of Chiefs and Elders in council and occasionally consists of title holders in
Members of these institutions
enjoy social influence in the communities powered by the social capital their
positions adorn them with. The cultural
structure of communities are made up of select values and customs which
represents their identity while shaping and modeling their behavioral patterns
into culturally accepted attitudes.
The acceptance of these
institutions by members of the community ensures their relevance and as such
makes them a powerful tool for installing cultural and societal change.
Communities are guided by
customs and customary laws with the traditional institutions as custodians of
these laws they influence the basic mannerisms of the indigenous people.
The relevance of traditional
institutions in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized, our traditional institutions
command respect from citizens and even political institutions. There are basic
stages by which customary laws are developed and sustained. Customs are first
practiced for a period of time after which they’re found helpful due to their
positive impact in sustaining their societal values they’re developed into
Customary laws are flexible
and subject to changes, reformations, and advancement in response to the
changes and developments of their community and environment. Little or no
cultural change can be achieved without the active participation of the
traditional institutions, especially at the grassroot level.
The inclusion and involvement
of Traditional institutions and stakeholders by the UNFPA/UNICEF joint program
in Nigeria has seen to the public declaration of abandonment of FGM by
communities where the programme has been implemented since 2015 in the five
focus states (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun, and Oyo).
The eight roles that traditional
institutions play in the abandonment of FGM include, but are not limited to;
of Traditional Institutions:
of enabling environments for EndFGM advocates.
of political, legislative, or executive stakeholders during public declarations
of abandonment of FGM.
the implementation of the new laws.
their followers towards positive change due to their popularity and social
the sustenance of their cultural heritages while reforming and changing certain
aspects of the customs considered to be harmful.
the FGM Abandonment process from community dialogue to public declaration.
cultural acceptance of new laws/ social norms of keeping the girl and woman
neighboring communities to embrace social changes and development.
The first Public Declaration of the Abandonment of FGM in Nigeria happened on 19th June 2017 in Izzi clan comprising of 3 LGAs in Ebonyi State, and it was made possible through the collaboration with traditional institution called the Izzi Traditional Rulers Council.
As we celebrate the
2020 International Women’s Day (IWD), held on 8th March, with the
campaign theme #EachforEqual”, let us remember that “Traditional Institutions
have a role to play inEnding FGM through a gender equal world”. Let’s
At this point, I will stop the conversation so we
can reflect on the key points discussed as I entertain any questions.
Thanks for being part of the conversations today.
Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our
for more info and updates on FGM, and kindly follow the handle “Endcuttinggirls
Nigeria’’ on all social media platforms. @Endcuttinggirls
Together, we will end FGM in this generation. Once
again, Korikiye Teke (@Her_petiteness) your Anchor for Todays Tweet Conference.