Female genital mutilation, FGM, is still a source of worry for many people.
A random sampling of opinions on the streets of Ibadan, Oyo state points to wide acceptance of FGM as necessary for the moral integrity of the society.
A 54-year old Mutiat who sells pepper cannot fathom the possibility of not practicing Female Genital Mutilation.
According to her, “It is not just about culture, look at our society now. Can’t you see how shameless girls if these days are. It is because they were not mutilated.”
A woman, who didn’t want name in print, admitted that although she has been told it is bad, it is necessary to practice Female Genital Mutilation so that young girls can be responsible.”
In her own opinion, a younger woman who simply calls herself spoke in pidgin: “E no good make we no do am. If we do am, the girl no go like sex but if we no do am like this, if they just touch her like this, na so she go fall for ground, open leg.”
Of the ten opinions sampled in Ibadan Southwest Local government, only one person described FGM as an outdated cultural practice that should be abandoned.
Apparently, popular opinion holds that FGM makes the girl child less promiscuous. This is despite intense advocacy and awareness by concerned organisations like the United Nations Population Fund and United Nations Children Fund.
What Statistics Say About FGM
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated, in 2016, that 200 million women living today in 30 countries – 27 African countries- including Nigeria have undergone the procedure.
According to statistics, Nigeria accounts for 20 million women and 25 percent of women in Nigeria have been genitally mutilated.
In Oyo state, prevalence rate of Female Genital Mutilation is astaggering 66-67%. At a public declaration in December 2018, where 94 communities from Oyo west, Kajola and Orelope Local governments independently pledged to eliminate FGM from their communities; Dr. OlasunboOdebode, consultant with UNICEF and a Child Protection Specialist, said that Female Genital mutilation prevalence rate for women between 15 and 49 years in Oyo state is 55.5 per cent, which is the fifth highest in Nigeria. She noted that six out of 10 women between ages 15 and 49 in Oyo State are victims of genital mutilation.
Sadly, reports published following the public declaration shows that indigenes of these communities still carry out the practice secretly.
Does FGM Makes the Girl-child Less Promiscuous?
A chat with Dare Adaramoye, the Oyo State Team Lead for the #EndCutting Girls Youth and Media Advocates reveals that according to a research carried out in the five states, with the most incidences of Female Genital Mutilation, 95% of brothel based sex – workers have been mutilated.
Sola Fagorunsi, founder of One Life Initiative argues that contrary to popular opinion, FGM actually promotes promiscuity as the nerves responsible for sexual pleasure have been deadened leaving the possibility for a search for sexual satisfaction open.
What The Law Says
Signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in May 2015, Section 6 of the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act, also known as the VAPP Act, prohibits harmful traditional practices like FGM. Section 26 of the Oyo State Child Rights Law (2006) dictates that anyone who subjects a female child to genital mutilation is liable to pay a fine of N20,000 and a jail term not exceeding two years.
Moreover, Section 9 of the Oyo State Violence Against Women law (VAWL) of 2016 states that anyone who performs FGM is liable to pay a fine of N100, 000 or a jail term not exceeding four years or both.
According to VAWL, anyone who attempts the act or anyone who incites, aids, abets or encourages the process is liable on conviction to two years imprisonment or N80, 000 fine or both.
Whether prosecutions have been made in relation to these laws is another issue entirely.
Ending FGM In Oyo State
In an interview with Zainab Sanni tocommemorate 2019 International day of Zero Tolerance against Female Genital Mutilation held earlier this year;AderonkeOlutayo, FGM UNICEF Consultant for Southwest Nigeria, said there is now an urgent need for less talk and more action.
“There is a need for everybody to be involved at this point. This is why we are emphasizing on concrete action. What we are saying is that we want to see action for everything we are saying
“We cannot isolate FGM from other types of violence against women. If we want to end female genital mutilation, we have to put more action into it and tackle the root cause of gender inequality. There is also a need to involve the political space so as to get national support.”
Mrs. Olutayo mentioned Community sensitization, community dialogue and education as part of United Nations Children Emergency Fund and United Nations Population Fund join effort to eliminate FGM in Nigeria. “Years of research have shown that FGM has no positive benefit and only leaves survivors with lifetime complication.”