The practice of circumcision for female children is rampant in over 28 African countries, including Nigeria, and this is recognized internationally as a fundamental bridge of human right because of its unfavourable effects.
Samuel O. Ogunyinka writes…
Female genital mutilation has it is also known as female circumcision, excision or female genital cutting can be described according to Medical dictionary as a broad term referring to many forms of female genital cutting, ranging from removal of the clitoris prepuce to the removal of the clitoris, labia minora, and infibulations; done for cultural, not medical reasons. The Female circumcision dictionary also defines it as any operation involving a ritual of cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), female genital mutilation can be defined captured as all procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs, whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reasons.
Initially, a reasonable phenomenon is ought to have an origin of which it should have sprout from or a belief to twine with, but the cradle of female genital mutilation is fraught with controversies, as it is not clear either it was founded as an initiation ceremony of young girls into womanhood or to protect female modesty and chastity or to ensure virginity or curb promiscuity. It is then crystal clear that the ritual is so lame to have risen for a single significance as it is shrouded in secrecy, uncertainty, and confusion.
However, many organizations and initiatives have stood up against this inhumane act which is often performed for female children between day one to eight months or sometimes above, to represent the interest of the majority of women and see it through that the act of circumcision comes to an end in every nook and crannies of wherever they might be practicing it. But, with the colour of recent climate, one can deduce that all their efforts are proving abortive because this act of genital wickedness is yet to drown.
The case of Nigerians engaging in this sort of villainous act is another thing to write about as they carry out different four forms of female genital mutilation which are: Clitoridectomy -removing the clitoral hood and at least part of the clitoris, Sunna –removing the full clitoris and part of the labia minora, Infibulation –this which also involves stitching the vaginal opening with a minuscule hole for urination and menstrual bleeding deal with removing the clitoris, labia minora, and labia majora, and the other unclassified form may involved pricking, stretching, cauterization or inserting herbs into the vagina. Clitoridectomies are more common in the southern part of the country, while the more extreme methods like infibulations are often found in the north.
Although, these may be different in practice but it must be noted that they have no difference as a result but the uniform pains and anguish for that particular individual. Thus, before the act of female genital mutilation will be excessively taken as a rite and the future of virtually most of the female children be tainted without the doers knowing they are depositing pains into the lives of the female children who are there without themselves, they must be brought to the knowledge of the aftereffects of it.
Whilst this, the following are the numbers of problematic health challenges that may arise from female genital mutilation according to the World Health Organization (WHO):
- Severe pain: Cutting the nerve ends and sensitive genital tissue causes extreme pain due to tissue damage and scarring that may result in trapped or unprotected nerve ending. Excessive bleeding (haemorrhage): Can result if the clitoral artery or other blood vessel is cut.
- Shock: It can be caused by pain, infection, and/ or haemorrhage.Genital tissue swelling: Due to inflammatory response or local infection.
- Infections: May spread after the use of contaminated instruments (e.g use of same instruments in multiple genital mutilation operations) and during the healing period.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): The direct association between mutilation and HIV remains unconfirmed, although the cutting of genital tissue with the same surgical instrument without sterilization could increase the risk for transmission of the virus between girls who undergo female genital mutilation together.
- Urination problems: These may include urinary retention and pain passing urine. This may be due to tissue swelling, pain, or injury to the urethra.Impaired wound healing: Can lead to pain, infections, and abnormal scarring.
- Death: Death can result from infections, including tetanus, as well as haemorrhage that can lead to shock.Mental health problems: The pains, shock, and the use of physical force during the event, as well as a sense of betrayal when family members condone and/or organize the practice, are reasons why many women describe female genital mutilation as a traumatic event. Also, studies have shown that girls and women who have undergone female genital mutilation are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), anxiety disorders, and depression.
- Vaginal problems: Discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis, and other infections. Menstrual problems: Obstruction of the vaginal opening may lead to painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea), irregular menses, and difficulty in passing menstrual blood, particularly among women with infibulations form of female genital mutilation. Excessive scar tissue (keloids): Excessive scar tissue can form at the site of the cutting.
- Sexual health problem: Female genital mutilation damages anatomic structures that are directly involved in female sexual function, and can therefore also have an effect on women’s sexual health and well-being. Removal of, or damage to, highly sensitive genital tissue, especially the clitoris, may affect sexual sensitivity and lead to sexual problems, such as decreased sexual desire and pleasure, pain during sex, difficulty during penetration, decreased lubrication during intercourse and reduced frequency or absence of orgasm (anorgasmia). Scar formation, pain, and traumatic memories associated with the procedure can also lead to such problems.
- Childbirth complications (obstetric complications): Female genital mutilation is associated with an increased risk of caesarean section, postpartum haemorrhage, recourse to episiotomy, difficult labour, obstetric tears/lacerations, instrumental delivery, prolonged labour, and extended maternal hospital stay. The risks increase with the severity of female genital mutilation.
- Obstetric fistula: A direct association between female genital mutilation and obstetric fistula has not been established. However, given the causal relationship between prolonged and obstructed labour and fistula, and the fact that female genital mutilation is also associated with prolonged and obstructed labour, it is reasonable to presume that both conditions could be linked in women living with genital mutilation.
- Perinatal risks: Obstetric complications can result in a higher incidence of infant resuscitation at delivery and antepartum stillbirth and neonatal death.
Absolutely, in consideration of the danger that is linked to the practice of female genital mutilation/circumcision, the government is expected to go more miles to draw a conclusive map and pave way for the abandonment of this unnoticed leading violence against women and girls through accelerating positive change towards a social norm of cutting girls, by educating parents on its calamitous aftermath and setting an anti-female genital mutilation policy and punishment for the offenders. Through this alone can our women and girls live a happy and peaceful life that is devoid of trauma, depression, and other related problems.