Turning the Tide Against Female Genital Mutilation: Survivors Can Make a Difference

By Duchess Magazine

The Devastating Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) remains a pervasive issue globally, deeply entrenched in cultural traditions and beliefs. However, amidst the challenges, survivors emerge as powerful agents of change, driving efforts to combat this harmful practice. With increasing awareness and advocacy, the fight against FGM gains momentum, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive action and international cooperation.

Chinenye Duru, Nigeria’s Head of Diplomatic Mission for the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC), emphasizes the severe physical and psychological consequences of FGM. Survivors, with their firsthand experience of the trauma inflicted by FGM, are at the forefront of advocacy efforts. Their voices carry weight, shedding light on the urgent need to end this harmful practice.

“As part of affirmative actions to end this devastating and psychological endemic that is as old as society itself, the International Human Rights Commission-IHRC in Nigeria calls for the need to eradicate FGM in Nigeria and educate the general public at all levels with emphasis on the dangers and undesirability of FGM,” Mr Duru said in the statement.

“The consequences of FGM are far-reaching and devastating. Physically, it can lead to severe pain, infections, and complications during childbirth, and even death. Emotionally and psychologically, it leaves lasting scars, causing trauma, depression, and a sense of violation. Moreover, FGM perpetuates gender inequality, reinforcing harmful stereotypes and limiting the potential of girls and women,” he explained.

FGM encompasses procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. This practice, recognized as a violation of human rights, reflects deep-rooted gender inequality and discrimination against women and girls. Despite its devastating health implications, FGM persists due to cultural and social factors, including societal pressure, beliefs about femininity, and control of female sexuality.

The immediate and long-term health complications of FGM are grave, ranging from severe pain and bleeding to urinary problems, infections, and childbirth complications. Survivors often endure physical and psychological suffering, including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. The practice not only violates individual rights but also perpetuates cycles of inequality and gender-based violence.

Read more: Senator Oluremi Tinubu Urges Collective Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria by 2030

FGM affects millions of girls and women worldwide, with over 200 million survivors and millions more at risk annually. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing awareness-raising, legal reforms, empowerment of women and girls, and international cooperation. The World Health Organization (WHO) leads global efforts to combat FGM, advocating for its abandonment and providing support to health care providers and affected communities.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a harmful practice that causes both physical and emotional pain. It involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGM can lead to severe pain, infections, complications during childbirth, and even death. It also leaves lasting emotional scars, causing trauma, depression, and a sense of violation. FGM perpetuates gender inequality and limits the potential of girls and women.

Why is FGM Performed?

The reasons for performing FGM vary from region to region and over time. Some communities see it as a social norm and pressure girls to conform to it. Others believe it is necessary for a girl’s upbringing and preparation for marriage. Some even mistakenly think that it has religious support, although no religious texts prescribe the practice.

Medicalization of FGM

Some health-care providers perform FGM because they believe it reduces the risk of complications compared to non-medicalized FGM. They may also see it as a step towards abandoning the practice. Financial incentives and social norms within their communities can also influence their decision. However, with support and training from organizations like WHO, many health care providers are becoming advocates for ending FGM.

WHO’s Response

In 2008, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution calling for action to eliminate FGM. WHO supports a holistic health sector response to prevent FGM and manage its complications. They provide guidance and resources for health workers and help countries adapt and implement these resources. WHO also conducts research to improve our understanding of FGM and how to end this harmful practice.

FGM continues to exist because of cultural traditions and superstitions. To effectively combat FGM, we need a comprehensive approach that includes raising awareness, changing laws, empowering women and girls, and international cooperation.

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