Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (WHO).
The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. In many settings, health care providers perform FGM due to the erroneous belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized1. WHO strongly urges health professionals not to perform such procedures.
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 results in death.
To add our voice to end all forms of FGM, we had an interview with the president of the Ondo State Association of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA), Chief (Mrs.) Fashakin in her office in Akosile Isolo quarters, Akure. Our discussion with her revealed the current position of the state on the issue of female genital mutilation, and she was able to tell us about her training four years ago by a white man. She said: “after the training on the effects of FGM, I no longer cut girls but now use my position as president of the TBA, to monitor other traditional birth attendants in Ondo State to ensure that none of them still engage in FGM.” She also made mention of the effect of female genital mutilation during child birth.
During the interview, she said female genital mutilation is no longer in practice in Ondo State. She added that a monitoring team from the hospital always comes around to check on the TBAs thrice in a month. She said policy has been drafted against female genital mutilation in the state and whosoever is caught practicing this will be punished for contravening the law.
In her closing statement, she said: “I advise all birth attendants who are still involved in FGM to stop it as this is a violation of human right”.
After leaving the president of the traditional birth attendants’ office, our interaction with three young girls show that they were not aware that female genital mutilation is a violation of human right. They were enlightened on the adverse effect of female genital mutilation and were given placards for their campaign against FGM.
In the market place, we met a woman who is married to an Edo indigene. She said: “I became aware of the effect of #FGM since 1996 through my mother-in-law who was fiercely against my decision to have my daughter circumcised. I was scared that my child will become promiscuous if FGM is not done on her but I thank God that I took my mother-in-law’s advice as I later got to know it was a good decision I had taken” She ended her statement by advising all mothers to stop cutting their girls.
Finally, we sampled the opinion of the youths too and got them to make a personal commitment to end FGM in their generation. One of the youths, Mr. Olamilekan made a personal commitment to educate other youths on the effect of FGM. He said: “I call on my fellow youths to join me to say #NoToFGM ”