..if global efforts are not significantly scaled up, the number of victims ‘ll be higher in 2030- UNICEF
To eliminate the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, FGM/C, there is a need to target community leaders who have higher influence on the people and would be able to discourage the practice at the grassroot level where it is common.
There is also the need for massive sensitisation and enlightenment campaign by the government, through which men and women would see the reason to join the fight to end this act of violation of human rights.
This was the recommendation at the commemoration of the 2021 International day of Zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation organised in Ondo State by the Restoration of the Dignity of Womanhood ROTDOW, in collaboration with Inter-Africa Committee, IAC.
The event which was held at the Arakale comprehensive health center, Akure the state capital, captured extensive lecture for mothers and prospective mothers on the need not to be involved in such practice.
In a lecture delivered by the ROTDOW’S Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Olabisi Omolona, having a good understanding of the social dynamics of decision-making that are related to FGM/C was stated as one of the ways to eliminate the practice.
According to her, people at the local level are likely to listen to their traditional leaders, hence the need for anti-FGM advocate to have grassroots connection to ease the process of the desired change.
In her remarks, the State Coordinator of IAC, Mrs Margret Adebayo urged women not to be cajoled into such practices by their mother in-laws, noting that there were existing laws that promulgate a N20000 fine or two years imprisonment for anyone found guilty of the crime.
The lecture highlighted some archaic beliefs to justify FGM/C by its practitioners to include reducing promiscuity and to ensure women are faithful to their husbands by having low-libido.
The United Nations declared Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting as an internationally recognized human rights violation.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Despite being internationally recognized as a human rights violation, FGM has been performed on at least 200 million girls and women in 31 countries across three continents, with more than half of those cut living in Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF over 4 million girls are at risk of undergoing FGM annually. But as COVID-19 shutters schools and disrupts programmes that protect girls from this harmful practice, even more are likely to be cut in the coming years. Most girls are subjected to FGM before the age of 15.
Numerous factors contribute to the prevalence of the practice. Yet in every society in which it occurs, FGM is a manifestation of entrenched gender inequality.
Report by UNICEF further says that some communities endorse it as a means of controlling girls’ sexuality or safeguarding their chastity.
Others force girls to undergo FGM as a prerequisite for marriage or inheritance. Where the practice is most prevalent, societies often see it as a rite of passage for girls. FGM is not endorsed by Islam or Christianity, but religious narratives are commonly deployed to justify it.
Because FGM is a cultural practice, parents may find it difficult to decide against having their daughters cut for fear that their families will be ostracized or their girls deemed ineligible for marriage.
Yet FGM can lead to serious health complications and even death. Immediate risks include haemorrhage, shock, infection, urine retention and severe pain. Girls subjected to FGM are also at increased risk of becoming child brides and dropping out of school, threatening their ability to build a better future for themselves and their communities. Indeed, of the 31 FGM-affected countries for which data are available, 22 are among the least developed in the world.
Today, an alarming trend in some countries is the medicalization of FGM, in which the procedure is carried out by a health-care provider. Approximately one in four FGM survivors – some 52 million women and girls worldwide – were cut by health personnel.
Medicalization not only violates medical ethics, it also risks legitimizing the practice and giving the impression it is without health consequences. No matter where or by whom it is performed, FGM is never safe.
Global efforts have accelerated progress being made to eliminate FGM. Today, a girl is about one third less likely to be cut than she was 30 years ago, says UNICEF.
Still, sustaining these achievements in the face of population growth presents a considerable challenge. By 2030, more than one in three girls worldwide will be born in the 31 countries where FGM is most prevalent, putting 68 million girls – some as young as infants – at risk of being cut.
If global efforts are not significantly scaled up, the number of girls and women undergoing FGM will be higher in 2030 than it is today.