Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.
It involves the removal of the clitoris, inner-and-outer lips of the vagina, and the sewing or stapling together of the two sides of the vulva leaving only a small hole to pass urine and menstruate – depending on the type.
The practice causes numerous health problems which can be fatal. Some young women and girls have also lost their lives in the process. In a recent case, a 3-year-old innocent girl has lost her life to the evil practice in a community in Rivers state.
In an interview with Sun News, the distraught parents of the victim, Mr. And Mrs. Ebitare Okafor, recounted their ordeal after losing one of their children, Chineye, to what they described as untreated wounds she suffered from female circumcision carried out on her by natives of Rumukurushi village in Port Harcourt Rivers State, with crude tools.
3-year-old Chineye, according to her parents, had been battling ill health as a result of infection from untreated wounds sustained in the course of her circumcision.
The deceased mom, Mrs. Okafor, a petty trader, from Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, couldn’t hold back tears while recounting how pressures from family members and village people from the community, made them allow Chineye to go through FGM.
Joined by her husband, Mr. Chibuzor Okafor, a native of Amaokwu in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State, the couple claimed to yielded to pressure from family members to circumcise their daughter at early age.
Okafor, a father of two who said he had earlier lost a son was full of tears and regret. From his story, it is believed that the child must have been circumcised using a method of infibulation.
Infibulation is a total scrapping of the clitoris, labia manora and labia minora. This process comes with pain, bleeding, stress and highly prone to infection.
Late Chineye and her parents have been victims of Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs), commonly in African societies; it often results in premature death of girls and women, as well as leave many physically, medically, psychologically and emotionally damaged for life.
According to experts who advocate against the harmful cultural practice, FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
According to the UN, FGM is performed for a number of reasons, including promoting virginity before marriage. But it can cause severe bleeding and health issues including infections and infertility, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of new-born deaths.
A 2017 report by the UN Population Fund estimates that one in four women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone FGM in Nigeria.
The report says that the practice has reached alarming rates in six Nigerian states. Majority of the initiatives on FGM in Nigeria are spearheaded and funded by NGOs.