February 6th 2017 is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It is a UN-sponsored awareness day that takes place on February 6 each year since 2003.
The major belief in support for the commemoration is that culture is always changing and with the concerns that FGM poses high-risk to women’s health, the abolition of such practices should be immediate. This is a very necessary movement for the rights of women and their bodies, as well as the protection of their physical and psychological health – which can be affected later in life. These advocacy efforts are to benefit the efforts to stop violence against women and girls as a whole.
According to Wikipedia, Every Woman, Every Child (a global movement), reports that: “Although primarily concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, FGM is a universal problem and is also practiced in some countries in Asia and Latin America. FGM continues to persist amongst immigrant populations living in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.”
#FGM practices are very prevalent in many parts of Nigeria. Baby girls been born in Nigeria every day are at risk of being mutilated and violated!
“About 120 to 140 million women have been subjected to FGM over the years worldwide and currently at least 3 million girls are at risk each year” – World Health Organization (WHO). The World Health Organization has said that: “Though the practice has persisted for over a thousand years, programmatic evidence suggests that FGM/C can end in one generation.
Commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is an effort to make the world aware of FGM and to promote its eradication. The hash tag used in raising awareness online is #EndFGM.
Effects of FGM and Reasons to Abolish FGM
According to wikipedia, #FGM must be abolished due to the following four reasons below:
- It is a human rights violation
Carol Bellamy, executive director of the UN’s Children’s Agency (UNICEF), noted through the British Broadcasting Corporation that “Female genital mutilation and cutting is a violation of the basic rights of women and girls,” and that “it is a dangerous and irreversible procedure that negatively impacts the general health, child bearing capabilities and educational opportunities of girls and women.”
- It violates women’s rights
It has been spoken about on numerous occasions that holding a day for zero intolerance of FGm is not just based on medical precautions, but as a way to protest the misogyny against females that is indirectly posed Written in an informational article about FGM on Every Woman, Every Child, which is a movement launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that puts into action the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, online database, it is noted that, “it reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls,” in reference to the practice of FGM.
- It has Health risks (short term)
Severe pain, excessive bleeding (hemorrhage), shock, genital tissue swelling: due to inflammatory response or local infection, infections, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), urination problems, impaired wound healing: can lead to pain, infections and abnormal scarring, death (can be caused by infections such as tetanus and hemorrhage), and psychological consequences such as trauma (many women describe FGM as a traumatic event.)
- Long Term Health risks (from Types I, II and III: occurring at any time during life)
Pain, painful urination, menstrual problems, keloids, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), obstetric fistula, perinatal risks, and psychological consequences such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders and depression. Infections are also a common effect of these procedures (often happening more than once), which include chronic genital infections, chronic reproductive tract infections, and urinary tract infection. Female sexual health is also affected long term, presenting issues such as decreased sexual desire and pleasure, pain during sex, difficulty during penetration, decreased lubrication during intercourse, reduced frequency or absence of orgasm (anorgasmia). Lastly, Obstetric complications often result post FGM procedures, some of which including an increased risk of difficult labour, having a Caesarean section performed, experiencing postpartum hemorrhage, or a recourse to episiotomy.
As an organisation that promotes reproductive health information and services in Nigeria, Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) joins the whole world to advocate for the abolition of #FGM in Nigeria and beyond to protect Nigerian women from the health hazards of FGM and the psychological effects of the violation of their rights.
To build a healthier future for Nigerians, among other necessary actions, we must #EndFGM.