Elimination of Female Genital Circumcision in Nigeria
The practice of FGM is widespread covering practically every state of the Federation though in varying magnitude from infancy to adulthood. Some socio-cultural determinants have been identified as supporting this avoidable practice. It has not been possible to determine when or where the tradition of FGM originated. It is still deeply entrenched in the Nigerian society, where critical decision makers are grandmothers, mothers, women, opinion leaders, men and age groups. The reasons given to justify FGM are numerous, they include: custom and tradition; purification; family honour; hygiene; aesthetic reasons and protection of virginity and prevention of promiscuity. Others include increased sexual pleasure of husband; enhancing fertility; giving a sense of belonging to a group and increasing matrimonial opportunities. Nationwide among women who could identify the type of procedure the commonest type of FGM is type II. Types I, II and III are found in different areas within the country. Type IV is common in the north as “GISHRI” cuts, and in the south as the introduction of herbs into the vagina.
Female Genital Mutilation was traditionally the specialization of traditional healers, traditional birth attendants or members of the community known for the trade. There is however the phenomenon of “medicalization” which has introduced modern health practitioners and community health workers into the trade. The WHO has continually and unequivocally advised that FGM must not be institutionalized, nor should any form of FGM be performed by any health professional in any setting, including hospitals or in the home setting.