Eromosele Ebhomele

The World Health Organisation has warned that engaging in female genital mutilation, also known as female cricumcision, is more deadly than beneficial to the girl child.

In a recent release, the global health body says female genital mutilation currently affects more than 125 million girls and women alive today in 29 countries in Africa and Middle East. In these countries, it is often carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.

The “procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths,” the release stated.

“FGM (female genital mutilation) has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways.

“It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.

“Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue.

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“Long-term consequences can include: recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths, the need for later surgeries.

“For example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth.

“Sometimes it is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing and repeated both immediate and long-term risks,” the WHO release explained.

The practice, it said, is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and among migrants from these areas.

Nigeria is one of the countries of the world still battling with women experiencing complication at child birth as well as high maternal mortality rate.

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Calling the act a violation of the human rights of girls and women, the WHO described female genital mutilation to include procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, emphasising the act has no health benefits on the victims.

“Female genital mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

“The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. However, more than 18 percent of all FGM is performed by health care providers, and the trend towards medicalization is increasing.

“The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.”

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“The causes of female genital mutilation include a mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities.

Where FGM is a social convention, the social pressure to conform to what others do and have been doing is a strong motivation to perpetuate the practice.

FGM is in many communities believed to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore believed to help her resist “illicit” sexual acts.

“Though no religious scripts prescribe the practice, practitioners often believe the practice has religious support,” WHO said, adding that it would continue with efforts to discourage the practice.