The Dangerous Adventure Of Female Circumcision And Genital Mutilation

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Twenty-five years ago, the family of Aya welcomed with joy the birth of a beautiful baby. Her birth was greeted with so much joy and celebrations. However, the little girl’s innocence was cut short when a few years after her birth, the head of the village women arrived with her team of women to have her circumcised. When the mother of the child objected, the older woman rebuked her and told her that unless the little girl was circumcised, she will grow into a nymphomaniac who wouldn’t be able to resist men. And so, she had to submit her baby girl to be mutilated. For several days after the act, the little girl bled and languished in pain. As if that was not enough, today, even though married, her life has never been the same as she finds every sexual activity extremely painful and traumatic.

Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision is the process of partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Sadly, female genital mutilation in Nigeria accounts for the most female genital mutilation all over the world.

In some cultures, female genital mutilation is compulsory and parents do not have the right to keep their daughters away from this culture. Statistics as at 2012 reveals that in Nigeria, 27 of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 are victims of female genital mutilation. More saddening is the fact that the process is carried out by traditional medicine practitioners who do not have any knowledge of medicine and human anatomy.

I cannot help but pause at this juncture to imagine what prompted this unholy practice in the first place. Okay, let us start with the common reason. Most people I have interacted with have revealed that the major reason for female genital mutilation is because, left alone to grow as she was born, the female child will grow up to be promiscuous and flirty. What an irrational thought! This is simply ignorance and illiteracy at its peak! Forgive my manners but if female genital mutilation was the solution, how come we still have promiscuous women even though they were circumcised as children? Of what use is a practice that poses so much danger and disadvantages with no value whatsoever? It is surprising how a community that frowns at other forms of sexual and gender-based violence will chose to look the other way round simply because this act affects women and children who do not have the physical strength to withstand it.

There are so many disadvantages of female genital mutilation. Some of the few that space will allow me write about is its health consequences. From the beginning of the act, the victim is exposed to all sorts of health complications such as severe pain, fractured bones, the possibility of infection from the use of unsterilised sharp objects. Some children even end up acquiring HIV/AIDS especially during group circumcision exercises.

Another health challenge could be excessive bleedings and this can cause death. Also, research has shown that the possibility of having prolonged labour and complications during childbirth is high among mutilated victims. Let’s not even begin to talk about the moral and psychological disadvantages such as trauma as a result of excruciating pain, loss of sex drive, low self-esteem, etc.

Surprisingly, many people do not know that female genital mutilation or circumcision is a crime in Nigeria. The offence and its legal implications are contained in the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, 2015.

The Act states unequivocally that the circumcision or genital mutilation of the girl child or woman is hereby prohibited and that “A person who performs female circumcision or female genital mutilation or engages another to carry out such circumcision or mutilation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 4 years or to a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand or both”

The act also makes provision for those who attempt to commit the offence and those who incite, aid, abet or counsel another person to commit the offence are liable upon conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand naira or both.

From the above, it is obvious that the long arms of the law can also grab those who encourage such practices in the society and like I would always say ignorance is not an excuse. As a matter of fact, as an ardent reader of this column, you cannot continue to remain ignorant because here I shed light on so many grey areas of human endeavor.

Knowledge of the disadvantages of this act alone is not enough. We all must synergise with relevant authorities including government at the federal, state and local government levels, governmental and non-governmental agencies, traditional rulers, law enforcement agencies, to change perceptions, create awareness and put a stop to this senseless act.