Female Genital mutilation in Nigeria


For cultural or any other kind of non-therapeutic purposes, female genital mutilation (FGM) or female genital circumcision involves all unlawful surgical procedures requiring partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia.

According to Okeke et al., Nigeria previously recorded the highest absolute number of cases of FGM in the world amounting for about one-quarter of the estimated 115-130 million circumcised women in the world.

Due to the potential for short-and long-term complications, its risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) thus affecting reproductive health and violation of women’s rights, the practice focused on cultural values and social pressure to comply has drawn significant criticism.

In view of these, in the past, the Nigerian government embarked on remedial steps aimed at publicly and energetically curbing the phenomenon by formulating strategies, initiatives and legislation that fostered behavioral improvement that resulted in reduced prevalence. FGM is practiced in nearly 28 African countries and also in a few isolated populations elsewhere.

Types of Female Genital Mutilation

These are identified as the types of female genital mutilation practiced by Nigerians:

Type 1- clitoridectomy

FGM is practiced in nearly 28 African countries and also in a few isolated populations elsewhere.

Type 2- excision

With partial or complete excision of the labia minora requires cutting the clitoris.

Type 3- infibulation

Removal of the labia minora, clitoris, and the adjoining side of the labia majora and also sewing of the vaginal opening leaving an opening with the size of a pinhead to enable urine and menstrual blood to flow.

Type 4- unclassified forms

Certain unclassified ways of FGM may include pricking, stretching, cauterizing or injecting herbs into the vagina.

Reasons People Practice FGM

This practice has become one of the most serious examples of abuse against girls and has been cited by the World Health Organisation for a variety of reasons.

Psychosexual reasons

This deals with attenuating sexual desire in females, retaining chastity and purity during pregnancy before marriage and fidelity and increasing male sexual gratification.

Sociological reasons

In order to connect with cultural heritage, introduce girls into womanhood, social unity and societal acceptance, most communities believe in the activity.

Hygiene and aesthetic reason

The outer female genitals are regarded as unclean and unsightly by certain cultures, so encouraging hygiene and providing aesthetic appeal is omitted.

Religious beliefs

Female genital mutilation is performed in a variety of cultures under the misguided belief that other traditions require it.

Others reasons

Improving fertility and encouraging child survival for a better future of marriage, and helping to produce children.

Implications of FGM

Female genital mutilation has the potential to cause microbial pathogens causing secondary infections. Topping identified some female-related microbial infections such as STIs, reproductive tract infection, HIV / AIDS,  pelvic inflammatory diseases and chronic urinary tract infection. In the same way, WHO believed that FGM raises the short-and long-term health risks to women and girls both from a human rights and safety perspective is unacceptable.

The complication of Sexually transmitted Infections (STIs)

Reportedly, female circumcision has contributed to an increased risk of developing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) complications. STIs are a thing of public health concern worldwide, as the WHO estimates the global incidence of STIs to begin approaching 125 million per year, primarily affecting developing countries.

Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

Partial occlusion of the vagina and urethra depict that the usual urine flow is deflected and the perineum becomes continuously moist and vulnerable to bacterial growth. Therefore, retrograde UTIs commonly occur which affects the bladder, uterus and kidneys. Throughout the operation damage to the lower urinary tract can also lead to infections in the urinary tract.

Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which has a common complication of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), is followed by abdominal pain and infertility, with Neisseria gonorrhea and Chlamydia trachomatis being the etiologic agents.

FGM plays a major role in the development of PID for the infibulated woman there are additional risks of infection band subsequent infertility. Patrick, et al. has recorded that the prevalence of the chronic pelvic disease in infibulated women was three times greater.

Chronic urine accumulation, menstrual discharge and recurrent E-infections in the urinary tract. Coli are the results of inadequate drainage, caused by the gap behind the vulva membrane. This then is an excellent repository for the growth of pathogenic species like the Escherichia coli Muteshi et al., which recorded a high incidence of infibulation-related candidiasis, and urine cultures. In the infibulated woman Shandoll proposed three major causes of PID, namely:

(1) Infection when infibulating,

(2) Interference with drainage &

(3) Infection caused by infibulation fracturing.

FGM Increases Susceptibility to HIV/AIDS

FGM has been said to play a critical role in promoting HIV infection by different mechanisms, as it compels women to HIV infection in the following ways: the excessive need for blood transfusion owing to hemorrhage when the procedures are performed at birth or as a consequence of vaginal tearing all through defibrillation and intercourse and use of the same blade on another human.

Other Health Implications

FGM causes significant harm to the female reproductive organ and wellbeing as a whole which can lead to death by excessive bleeding, pain, and trauma as well as debilitating infections. Owing to the unsanitary conditions under which it is usually practiced, it has harmful health consequences.

Urogenital vaginal fistula such as Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) may result in opening passages between the vagina and bladder or anus: Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) is a subtype of female urogenital fistula (UGF). VVF is an irregular fistula that stretches between the bladder and the vagina, allowing the continual unintended discharge of urine into the vaginal vault and Recto Vaginal Fistula (RVF) An irregular connection between both the lower part of your large intestine is your rectum — and your vagina. The bowel component will leak through the fistula, enabling the passage of gas or stool through your vagina.


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