FGM jeopardises productive health, minister says

Female genital mutilation (FGM) can endanger productive health and fertility and should not be practiced, a Nigerian minister has urged.

Dr Okechukwu Ossai, director of public health at the Ministry of Health in Enugu, described it as a violent practice that deprives females of being able to reach their full potential. 

He went on to say that the World Health Organization (WHO) has defined FGM as a violation of female human rights, with 193 nations agreeing to a new worldwide target to eliminate the procedure by 2030. 

Dr Ossai noted that FGM included the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the fold of skin surrounding it, with removal of the labia minor and labia major often occurring as part of the practice. 

He went on to argue that, while the goal was important, it is not enough and pleaded with the global community to defend the wellbeing and dignity of girls across the world. 

“Female genital mutilation is the removal of genital tissue which involves removing necessary glands leading the vaginal environment to become unfavourable to sperm.

“It also involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris and possibly the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris, removal of the labia minor and the labia major, among others,” Dr Ossai explained. 

He explained that key institutional frameworks for advocacy and plans need to be introduced in rural areas where the practice is more common. 

A recent study from 28TooMany found that around 20 million women and girls in Nigeria have gone through FGM, representing ten per cent of the global total of sufferers. 

Many Nigerian girls are cut as infants, with 16 per cent suffering before their first birthday and 82 per cent being cut before they reach five. Overall, over 200 million girls and women alive today have gone through FGM. ADNFCR-2094-ID-801832380-ADNFCR