FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION: MYTHS AND FACTS; COMPLICATIONS AND CONSEQUENCES.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) otherwise known as female circumcision is widely believed to be one of the age-long obsolete, crude and anti-human traditional harmful practices mostly practised among the black race. The situation in Osun State and Nigeria at large calls for all hands to be on desks to promote abandonment of that good for nothing traditional harmful practice(FGM). As at today, no scientifically proofed health benefit has been alluded for its justification.
FGM violates girls and women 's human rights, including their rights to health, to be free from violence, to life and physical integrity, to non-discrimination, and to be free from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. When young girls are cut, they may bleed severely or become susceptible to a serious infection, especially when unsterile cutting instruments, such as knives or razors, are used. The procedure, which serves no medical purpose and is irreversible, inflicts severe pain on young girls and can be life-threatening.
At this year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation marked across the globe on February 6, 2017, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, who condemned the practice, pointed out that there was no benefit for the FGM for non-medical reasons. According to him, it is a practice that can cause severe physical and psychological harm to the victims. He said that it is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
He also disclosed that five states in Nigeria had the highest rates of FGM above 60 per cent, adding that Osun and Ebonyi states are leading with 77 and 74 per cent respectively according to the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey. The other states, he said, are Ekiti, 72 per cent; Imo, 68 per cent; and Oyo, 66 per cent. He therefore calls for collective action to end the menace by calling on governments at all levels, civil society organisations as well as traditional and religious leaders to unite and end the scourge in Nigeria.
To this effect and in pursuance of Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030); goal No 3- Good Health and Well-being and with support from The Girl Generation (TGG), UK; Livingspring Human Development Initiative (LHDI) a non-governmental, non- political, non-religious and non-profit making organization that based in Osogbo, Osun State embarked on rigorous campaign against Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) in Osun State with particular attention to communities in Boripe and Obokun Local Governments. Core of the methodologies used during the campaign includes but not limited to house-to house awareness creation via selected community dwellers trained for the purpose, advocacy visits to the traditional rulers, town hall meeting/ community dialogues and intensive media campaign on radio and television.
During the campaign, key issues discussed includes meaning of FGM, types, myths and facts, complications and consequences.
MEANING OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)
Female genital mutilation (FGM),sometimes called female circumcision or female genital cutting, means piercing, cutting, removing, or sewing closed all or part of a girl's or woman's external genitals for no medical reason.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."
Types of FGM
There are four types of FGM:
Type 1: is when the clitoris or the clitoral hood is cut off.
Type 2 : is when the clitoris and inner lips are cut off.
Type 3: is when the clitoris, inner lips and outer lips are cut and sewn together or sealed, leaving only a small opening (infibulation).
Type 4: is all other harmful practices which could include pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping and burning of female genitalia.
MYTHS AND FACTSABOUT FGM
An uncut woman will become promiscuous and have an uncontrollable sexual appetite.
FGM makes no difference to a woman’s sexual appetite but can stop her from enjoying sex. Sexual appetite mainly arises from hormones secreted by glands in the brain.
If the clitoris is not cut, it will continue to grow.
The clitoris stops growing after puberty and is still small at the final stage of growth.
If the clitoris is not cut, it will harm her husband during intercourse.
The clitoris gives a woman sexual pleasure and does not cause any harm to her or her husband.
If the clitoris is not cut, it will harm the baby during delivery.
The clitoris causes no harm to the foetus, the baby or the mother, whereas FGM may cause serious complications during childbirth.
If a woman does not undergo FGM, she will not be able to have children.
FGM has nothing to do with fertility; and FGM may actually cause infertility because of infections.
If a woman does not undergo FGM, her genitals will smell.
FGM will not make the vagina any leaner. In fact, Type 3 FGM can make the vagina less hygienic.
COMPLICATIONSAND CONSEQUENCES ASSOCIATED WITH FGM
Complications associated with FGM can be classified intotwo: immediate and long term complications and consequences. Immediatecomplications and consequences can include:
- Severe pain- it can lead to nueromas, chronic vaginal infections, dyspareunia, vaginismus, dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia
- Excessive bleeding (hemorrhage): it can lead to anemia, oliguria, hypotension, sock and death
- Infections- Tetanus, HIV, pelvic inflammatory disease, gangrene
- Urinary problems- it can lead to urethral edema, urinary retention, urethral strictures, meatal obstruction, chronic urinary tract infections
- Wound healing problems- the wound may not heal on time and thereby cause damage or injury to surrounding genital tissue
Long-Term Complications and Consequencescan include:
- Vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections);
- Menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.);
- Scarring- it can lead to Scar tissue and keloids; fibrosis, partial or complete labial fusion, hematocoipos, inclusion and sebaceous cysts, vulvar abscess
- Sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.);
- Infertility- vaginal stenosis, infibulated scar, dyspareunia, apareunia
- Increased risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, etc.) and newborn deaths;
- Need for later surgeries: for example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening (type 3) needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth (deinfibulation). Sometimes genital tissue is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, this further increase both immediate and long-term risks;
- Psychological problems (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, etc.)
- Obstetrical problems- it can lead to inability to manage labour, obstructed second stage, fetal hypoxia, intrapartum fetal demise.
- Fracture- It can lead to fetal clavicle, femur, humerus, etc.
Withoutmince words, Livingspring Human Development Initiative is calling on all andsundries to join hands with organizations working on FGM abandonment acrossnooks and crannies of Osun State andNigeria as a whole to support and promote total abandonment of the ferocious traditionalharmful practice called female genital mutilation/cutting/circumcision.