2:09 am - Wednesday October 18, 2017

Stand Up Against Female Circumcision; Human Rights Abuse

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Female Circumcision

So obviously, in some part of the world Nigeria inclusive, women are still being legally abused and violated in one of the most bizarre ways called female genital mutilation (FGM) or should I use the most popular description female circumcision.

Female genital mutilation is the ritual procedure of partially or totally removing the external sex genitals thereby intentionally altering or causing injury to the female genital organ for non-medical reasons.

 

Most dangerously, this whole exercise is conducted using unsterilized tools such as scissors, razor blades, locally welded blunt knifes, snail shells, rocks, strong alcoholic drinks among other things.

female-genital-mutilation

This practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers who often also play other roles in the communities. In many other settings, health care providers are enjoined to perform the procedures to the erroneous believe that medicalizing it will make it safer.

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure leads to death.

What Exactly Does Female Circumcision Entail?

There are 4 classifications of this bizarre practice and they are all rated as being from bad to worse;

  1. Clitoridectomy; This is the partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
  2. Excision; This is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva ).
  3. Infibulation; This is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy).
  4. Type 4 includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

There is also Deinfibulation, which is referred to as the practice of cutting open the sealed vaginal opening in a woman who has been infibulated. This according to practioners is believed to be necessary for improving health and well-being as well as to allow intercourse or to facilitate childbirth.

Unfortunately research has proved that FGM has more devastating impact on the lives of victims than can ever be imagined. It has no medical backing or uses as opposed to the believe of those who practice it. It has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies. Its risks increase with increasing severity of the procedure.

Who is at risk?

Procedures are mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and adolescence, and occasionally on adult women. More than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM annually.

Also, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated 1.

The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries the Middle East and Asia, as well as among migrants from these areas. FGM is therefore a global concern.

In Nigeria, a few states are still recorded as engaging in the practice of FGM and Some of the major reasons for the persistence of this practice in Nigerian communities are rooted in culture and tradition. This has regrettably done more harm than good.

Cultural and social factors for performing FGM (Female Circumcision)

The reasons why female circumcision are performed vary from one region to another as well as over time, and include a mix of sociocultural factors within families and communities which in any case are totally untrue and are simply a misconstruction stem from ignorance on both those who conduct it and mothers who willingly subjects their children to such torture.

Among some of the common reasons for female cricumcision include

  1. To discourage promiscuity
  2. Female genitals are unhygienic and ugly
  3. It can improve fertility
  4. For acceptability
  5. Preparing the girl child for marriage.

These among many unscrupulous believe are the reason FGM is still being practice in today world.

However, the reality of this practice is that it is damning and a complete violation of the girl child. Most importantly, it does serious harm to the psychology of the affected children as the practice is forceful without any form of pain control, inducing trauma, shock and even death among other conditions.

From research, FGM or female circumcision has several complications both short term and long term. Some of the short term complications include genital tissue swellings, severe pain, excessive bleeding which could lead to death if blood loss is not stopped, infections, urinary tract complications, shock and even death.

The long term implications include consistent urinary tract infections, permanent painful urination, painful menstruation, difficulty in having sex, increased risk of child birth complications, keloid, need for a later surgeries.

But the most damming of the impact of this practice if you survive it is psychological. (Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem) among other challenges they have to deal with for life

Until stringent laws guiding the rights of the girl child and women generally are put in place and enforced, there is the tendency that abuse in one form or the other will continue.

No one should be allow to violate the rights of other individuals especially minors without a stiff penalty. And until the penalties are proportionate to the weight of offense, people may most likely still violate the rights of others.

In Nigeria, there are not fewer than 6 states who still legally practice the act of female circumcision. Top on that list include Osun State, Ekiti State, Oyo State, Imo State among others.

In Egypt, report has it that, 92% of Egyptian mothers underwent circumcision and about 35% of this number still wishes to circumcise their daughters even after the confirmed effect of the exercise on the general life of the victim.

There was also recently passed an amended bill where offenders in this regard who served jail term from 3months to 2 years will now have to serve for about 5-7years if found guilty

In the case of death, offenders could end up spending up to 15 years in jail.

While this may seem like a good development, I strongly believe that this punishment is not commensurate to the weight or gravity of crimes committed not just on women but on minors.

Intentionally mutilating a person is as good as killing that person if she has to go through life feeling unworthy. The truth is 98% of survivals of genital mutilation go through life feeling unworthy and this is because of the many alterations it does to their life physically and emotionally.

It is everybody’s responsibility (both men and women) to condemn in strong terms every barbaric practice aimed at reducing the worth of women and inhibiting them. Like it or not, women are the life line of not just every society but creation itself and any effort aimed at suppressing women will not only suppress women, it will also clog the growth of a nation.

Source; www.vanguardngr.com, www.who.int

 

 

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