By Christie Doyin
When the Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), WOYODEV visited National Pilot recently, as part of its advocacy visit, I felt the urge to lend voice to the campaign against Female Genital Mutilation/Circumcision as some are wont to call it. The urge became stronger after the speech from my MD/Editor-in-Chief, which made me concluded that it would be an injustice to myself first, and to the female hood if I did nothing.
The Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Circumcision (FGC) dated back as far as only time itself and an uncertain origin but then the claim is that it is done to curb promiscuity and enhance chastity, which in Africa is premium. However, it is pertinent to note that it is carried out in some cases as an initiation into womanhood in some settings while in some others, used to ensure that the female child keeps her virginity, which is considered as a pointer to the morality stance of the family.
In Nigeria for instance, especially among the Yorubas of the southwest and the Benin people of south south Nigeria, virginity is not joked with, not in the least. That is why families of bride and the bridegroom looked forward to the night of the wedding, when the virginity will be broken (or otherwise) to prove that the bride had remained chaste up to that moment. Another reason for the FGM/C is aimed towards reducing the girl-child’s libido to make her stay with her husband and keep within his sexual ability.
According to findings, the practice itself involved the cutting of the hood of the clitoris or the entire clitorid; another involves the removal of the clitoris along with partial or total excision of the labia minora. Also, we have the stitching of the vaginal orifice, leaving partial or a tiny part only for urination and menstrual flow. In some parts of the north, it involves stretching of the clitoris and/or labia as well as the introduction of corrosive substances and herbs into the vagina. However, it was described in some quarters as the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is done either with a blade or massaged daily to whither or fold into the vagina. However you described it or whatever way it is practised in your area, the fact is that the female child and women are being subjected to dome certain degrees of health hazards.
I once witnessed the circumcision experience of some of my cousins and I couldn’t help but wept for them. They bled and writhed in excruciating pain for days. The worst is when they had to urinate, the pain and wail are enough to touch even the strongwilled and hard hearted and considering the fact that the act is carried out on infants and teenagers, the effect is best imagined.
Worldwide, FGM is considered as an unhealthy practice, hinged on tradition, and it varies from country to country, tribes, religion, and from one state and cultural setting to another. It is widely recognised as a violation of human rights, an assault on the female folks and one which could be considered as a deprivation of desires, deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and perceptions.
Away from that, it is important to look at the implications of this act on the womenfolk who are subjected to this heinous practice and which has no plan of changing in sight. Contrary to general traditional beliefs, FGM/C will make victims more promiscuous and less submissive to their husbands. This is so because after the cutting off of the clitoris or part of the vagina labia, there is less sensitivity, therefore it is near impossible for the woman to derive pleasure from sexual intercourse with the husband as such would hardly get aroused and so will recourse to seeking solace outside the matrimonial home, which may result in her hoping from bed to bed and possibly from one marriage to another, and for the men expecting sexual submissiveness, the truth is that the violation of the female sexuality through Circumcision would rather make the women less submissive.
Of course, During sexual intercourse, the male organ touches the clitoris and that is where the woman gets the arousal that leads to the satisfaction she gets in bed, but if you cut it off, she certainly will no longer feel that satisfaction. Hence, she continues to look for succour outside which subsequently lead to divorce or seperation.
The sexual implications apart, as stated earlier, I witnessed some of my cousins go through this and the experience was not palatable. Two of them bled excessively that it took the intervention of a medical doctor uncle to bring the bleeding under control. Excessive bleeding or haemorrhage is one of the most common complications of FGM, as excision of the clitoris involves cutting across the high pressure clitoral artery, which experts says is a blood vessel, and attempts to stop such bleeding may be ineffective.
Another danger or Ill of female circumcision is shock resulting from traumatising pain, acute and extensive bleeding which may also lead to sudden death. Also, retention of urine, out of fear of the associated pain may be extended beyond the period as a result of swelling, contamination or inflammation and so on. Diverse infection could result from the crude instruments, carelessness or other mishaps during the process.
Apart from all these, the wound may fail to heal totally and when it does, it may be prolonged. Victims are also subjected to severe pain during sexual intercourse, excessive bleeding during or after child delivery among others, including psychological traums and other consequences.
Conclusively, the effects of all these on the society are certainly not palatable to the ears (and sight). The negative impact include over blown surge of sex workers, promiscuity and increased number of divorces including terrorism, hatred and other violence across board.
I, therefore join in the advocacy for promulgation of effective and enforceable laws against the barbaric act in the country, while violators should be subject to certain degrees of punishments.