Why Nigerian govt must enforce laws against female genital mutilation – Expert

women in hospital
Nigerian women in a hospital used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: Family Included]

The federal government has been urged to ensure implementation of laws against Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, across Nigeria to bring an end to the practice in the country.

Lola Alonge, the Executive Director of Child Health Advocacy Initiative, CHAI, made the appeal in a press statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday.

She said FGM is unhealthy and violates the right of women.

FGM is a procedure involving partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organ for non-medical reasons. The act is globally recognised as an extreme violation of the rights of women and girls.

In some societies, it is considered a rite of passage. In others, it is seen as a pre-requisite for marriage or attributed to religious beliefs. The practice is considered a means of maintaining chastity and preventing promiscuity or infidelity.

A UNICEF recent statistics shows that the five states with the highest prevalence of FGM in Nigeria are Osun 77 per cent, Ebonyi 74 per cent, Ekiti 72 per cent, Imo, 68 per cent and Lagos 45 per cent.

According to Mrs. Alonge, about 20 million women and girls had undergone FGM in Nigeria and many more are at risk. More than 200 million women and girls are reported to have undergone FGM globally.

Warning of its dangers to women, Mrs. Alonge called on faith and traditional leaders in Nigeria to act as change agents and challenge the misconception that FGM is a religious and cultural requirement for a girl child.

Stressing the need to focus on ending the practice, she said it can cause short and long-term complications, including chronic pain, infection, increased risk of HIV transmission, anxiety and depression, birth complication, infertility and in the worst cases, death.

Mrs. Alonge explained that FGM violates human rights principles and standards including the principles of equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the rights of the child and the right to physical and mental integrity and even the right to life.

“About one in five girls who have been subjected to FGM had the procedure performed by a trained medical professional and UNICEF data indicates that 28% of FGM cases are carried out by a health professional.

“FGM can never be “safe” and there is no medical justification for the practice even when the procedure is performed in a sterile environment and by a health care professional, there can be serious health consequences immediately and later in life.

“FGM performed in hospitals gives a false sense of security. FGM has no known health benefit and it causes lifelong physical and psychological harm. It affects the family, community, relationships and economic development” she added.

Mrs. Alonge recalled that former President Goodluck Jonathan had signed the federal Violence Against Person’s Prohibition Act into law.

Among other issues, the law bans FGM and other harmful traditional practices. But the VAPP Act only applies to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja.

“It is up to each of the 36 states to domesticate the 2015 VAPP ACT and pass it into law. Previously 11 out of 36 states had enacted laws banning FGM (Edo, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Rivers, Delta, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, and Oyo).

“However, there is an inconsistency between the passing and enforcement of laws in Nigeria. That is why some states like Osun and Ekiti where they have existing laws have started training law enforcement officials on the law banning FGM”.

Though, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Jide Idris, said FGM is one of the most barbaric forms of killing and harming women, he however, disagreed that health workers in Lagos conduct the act.

Mr. Idris said any health worker caught doing such will be prosecuted.

According to him, Lagos has such high percentage because the state is multicultural.


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  • thusspokez

    The federal government has been urged to ensure implementation of laws against Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, across Nigeria to bring an end to the practice in the country.

    The word “mutilation” was deliberately chosen to portray the practice of female circumcision as barbarian. This is often how the West sees Africans. That Africans are themselves adopting and using this obnoxious term shows how stúpid some Africans are. It is like Africans calling themselves the N-word.

    This campaign is driven by western women — in the name of empowering so-called “third-world” women. This is the same western women who have not been able to empower themselves; who earn less than their male counterparts at work; who are often treated as second class citizens; and who are sexually assaulted left and right and yet rarely complain or fight back, and prone to tears easily. This is the same western women who find African/Caribbean women too overpowering, aggressive and even threatening. Yet these weaklings see appoint themselves as knights in shining armour to save the very people that they consider too overpowering.

    Female circumcision was not a problem in Africa until western women made it a problem and convinced gullible Africans — who never seem to know what they want — to see it as a problem, and adopt it.

    A people who cannot determine their own problems and solutions will continue to be led and enslaved by outsiders. Africans should be able identify and prioritise their own problems.

    If female circumcision is “mutilation” (practised by barbarians) equally, abortion is murder! — which it is technically. But every time I present this argument on western websites in similar debates, many western posters (most likely, women) would complain to the website owners about me over what they consider:”offensive argument”. So there is double standards: Western women can describe ‘female circumcision’ as mutilation but when people like me describe abortion as murder, they go extremely defensive and often want to silence me.

    Lola Alonge is both stúpid and a western stooge with not brain to think for herself, let alone women in Nigerians. She is a follower and ‘me-too-ist’ of western campaigns. Would she be campaigning against female circumcision if Western women had not told her to do so?

    Matured people think for themselves and find their own solutions — not wait for outsiders to manufacture problems and sell it to them. Lola Alonge and Africans need to grow up. Western women are in no position to talk to Africans about empowerment. Western women need to do more in the West to empowerment women in Hollywood, media, politics, sports, work place, etc. .