In Nigeria, higher percentage of female genital mutilation victims live in urban areas – Report


Three out of ten Nigerian women aged 15 to 49 and living in urban areas have undergone female genital mutilation, according to a latest report by 28 Too Many, an anti-FGM charity.

The figure, 32.3 per cent, contrasts sharply with 19.3 per cent of women living in rural areas who have experienced the practice.

The report, largely based on the 2013 Demographic Health Survey, DHS, also noted that the South East (49 per cent) and South West (47.5 per cent) have the highest FGM prevalence, with Osun State recording the highest at 76.6 per cent.

In contrast, the North East has the lowest prevalence (2.9 per cent) while Katsina State, in the North West, recorded the lowest prevalence (0.1 per cent).

“Prevalence by current place of residence may not be a telling factor, however, as a woman may have moved since undergoing FGM, particularly if she was cut at a young age,” the report stated.

“For this reason it is more helpful to look at prevalence among young girls according to their place of residence. In Nigeria, the prevalence of FGM among girls under 14 is almost equal between those living in urban areas (16.8 per cent) and those in rural areas (17 per cent).

“Although for older women, the possibility of migration between rural and urban areas must be taken into account, the above figures do suggest that there has been a significant decline in FGM being carried out on girls and women living in urban areas, while the situation has remained almost unchanged for those living in rural areas.”

The WHO defined female genital mutilation as comprising of all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

According to the DHS 2008, 11.2 per cent of women and 17.3 per cent of men who have heard of FGM claim that it’s benefit – the most common benefit cited – lies in the preserving of virginity and prevention of pre-marital sex.

The second most common benefit cited by men is ‘more sexual pleasure for the man’ (7.2 per cent), and by women is ‘social acceptance’ (7.9 per cent).

Social acceptance and better marriage prospects are closely linked in relation to FGM: to be a part of the community, women must marry and have children to perpetuate the community, and in some ethnic groups it is traditionally required that they undergo FGM in order to marry.

“While the FGM prevalence in Nigeria is by no means the highest in the region, at 24.8 per cent among women aged 15 to 49, it is globally significant in representing some 20 million women and girls who have been cut or at risk of being cut,” said Ann-Marie Wilson, Executive Director, 28 Too Many.

“As we publish our 11th Country Profile on FGM, there are, however, many reasons to be hopeful for the future of Nigeria. The new Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act which was introduced in 2015 bans practices such as FGM and is therefore a significant step in the right direction.

“We welcome its introduction. It is now essential that this federal law be adopted and enforced across all states in Nigeria, to achieve its full impact.”

The report noted that determining the incidence rates of FGM is problematic because DHS used different methods of measurement in its surveys of 2003, 2008, and 2013.

In 2003, the types of cutting distinct to Nigeria – angurya (scraping of tissue surrounding the opening of the vagina) and gishiri (cutting of the vagina), both forms followed by the introduction of herbs or corrosive substances to narrow the vagina – were not taken into account.

In 2008, some but not all of the research teams did include these forms of FGM under Type IV; it had the effect of significantly increasing the prevalence recorded from 19 per cent in 2003 to 29.6 per cent in 2008. In 2013, all teams classified these distinct forms of FGM as Type IV.

The most common type of FGM in Nigeria is Type II (some flesh removed), with 62.6 per cent of women who undergo FGM experiencing this type, according to the report.

Type I (clitoris nicked, no flesh removed) is experienced by 5.8 per cent of women who undergo FGM, and Type III (sewn closed, infibulation) is experienced by 5.3 per cent of women who undergo FGM. Angurya cuts are performed on 24.9 per cent and gishiri cuts on 5.1 per cent of women who experience ‘other’ or ‘unclassified’ types of FGM.

Among girls aged 0 to 14 who undergo FGM, 2.7 per cent are ‘sewn closed’ (that is, infibulated).

In May 2015, the federal government passed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, which outlawed FGM and other harmful traditional practices, but it only applies mostly in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

At least 200 million girls and women across 30 countries (28 in Africa, Yemen, Indonesia) have experienced FGM, according to UNICEF.

The report proposed, among others, a “strong national message” against FGM, to be reinforced at state and district levels to ensure changes in behaviour and attitude towards FGM.

It also seeks the engagement of men and boys when conveying the anti-FGM message.

“Facilitating education and supporting girls through secondary and further education is vital, as current figures indicate that better educated mothers are less likely to have their daughters cut.”


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  • blueeyedkitten

    What is the difference between FGM and vaginal plastic surgery?

  • George

    That is why they Yerima, yeye emir Sanusi and bingo Buhari himself for their virginal verification for their backward underage girls.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Any decent Nigerian parent who believe truly in Jehovah God Almighty, as written in the scripture must ensure their children are circumcised their children-male and female as directed in the holy bible by Jehovah God.People who have lost their sense of bearing who are adopting foreign culture are the people behind this anti-female-genital mutilation war.Those supporting this anti-female genital mutilation war are indecent pharisee, who have lost their culture and tradition as every society is endowed with God given culture and tradition worldwide..

  • thusspokez

    female genital mutilation victims

    Why is an African news website using a term that is intended to portray Africans and their cultures as barbaric?

    When did the the word “circumcision” morphed into “mutilation”? Why stop at just renaming circumcision? Why don’t we also rename abortion as murder –except that this will enraged western women, but particularly, their feminists. Or how about also renaming face-lift as facial mutilation — except that this too will enrage westerners, particularly their women

    I truly despair for Africans, but particularly, Nigerians because of their inability to think for themselves. No wonder, some people say that Africans, but particularly Nigerians are stµpid.

    Nigerians don’t even realise when other people are putting them down. For example, Buhari backed (and some would even say, defended) David Cameron, former British Prime Minister — and indeed, the worst British Prime Minister in history — when the latter had described Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt”. Whether Cameron was right or not is irreverent. What is relevant is that leaders of countries don’t say these things about friendly countries nor do the head of state of the country receiving the insult go out of their way to defend the insult instead of protesting.

    So now the West tells Africans that circumcision is mutilation and Africans in unison, node their heads in agreement. Verily, Africans have a long way to go intellectually.

    • Du Covenant

      It is unfortunate you don’t see the barbaric nature of this aspect of your culture. Girls do not get circumcised only boys and any attempt to temper with a girl’s anatomy under the pretext of circumcision is barbarism at its highest not culture. I am an African and a Nigerian, in my world such barbaric and wicked culture does not exist. If you know a little bit of human anatomy you will appreciate where I am coming from. FGM is wicked, barbaric, selfish and out rightly a shameful tradition that has no place in the 21st century!.

      • thusspokez

        How astonishing that you hadn’t realised how barbaric the practice was until some western women told you so. If stµpidy and ignorance were to blame them, situation doesn’t seem to have changed much now given your inability to think for yourself but simply echoing the propaganda of feeble western women who are unable, even in the 21st century, to empower themselves — many continue to be treated as second-class citizens in society and work place — but nevertheless quick to want to empower so-called third world women. You undermine yourself if you can’t think for yourself but outsource it to someone else — particularly, people weaker that you.

        • Du Covenant

          I think you didn’t read my comment so, I will try again. You seem to suggest that it is an all African culture to practice this barbaric act called FGM. It is not correct, I clearly stated in my culture we don’t practice such nonsense, only boys are circumcised and I am an African. With advent of modern medicine, boys don’t have to go through the rituals that took place around circumcisions. Even within Nigeria the report on FGM clearly mentioned where such wickedness is prevalent read it again please. I did not have anyone to tell me about this barbarism, my people just don’t do this kind of thing to their children and I will NEVER condone it!. Why is it that any so called African culture is about spilling blood and inflicting pain on others when normal people are thinking of exploring other planets, and coming up with solutions to our daily problems?. This practice has no place in the 21st century and I am glad my culture does not encourage such wickedness on fellow human being!.

          • thusspokez

            “barbaric act”
            “spilling blood”
            “inflicting pain”
            “when normal people…”

            These are your choice of words to describe Africans and their cultures.Yet you claim that your an African. Peruse these words and behind them is a self-hating person — just ask any psychologist.

          • Du Covenant

            I am a very proud African and will NEVER support anyone who believes it is okay to inflict pain, spill the blood of a fellow human being in the name of ‘culture’. It is barbaric, it is absolute nonsense and MUST stop. Do you know what patients go through undergoing planned surgeries in clean controlled conditions?. It is amazing you enjoy mobile phone technology, Internet and many others today developed by other human beings like you yet, the only thing you can cling to or produce is to ‘mutilate’ your fellow human being in the name of ‘culture’. I am willing to forgive those who practiced this nonsense because they did not know any better. But not selfish individuals like you in the 21st century. People like you ought to be shipped off to another planet!.