Seven Dangers of Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. About 20 million women and girls in Nigeria have undergone female genital mutilation, 10% of the global total. Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a human rights issue that affects girls and women worldwide. FGM is recognized worldwide as a fundamental violation of the human rights of girls and women. Imo state is among the 6 states in Nigeria with high prevalence of female genital mutilation.

Because of the harm and negative implications of female genital mutilation, countries around the world are taking action to end the practice, and the federal government of Nigeria has banned the practice nationwide, because it poses short and long term dangers to our girls and women. Seven(7) Dangers of Female Genital Mutilation include:

FGM leads to Urinary Problem: FGM can cause urinary retention and pain passing urine. This may be due to tissue swelling, pain or injury to the urethra.

FGM leads to Newborn deaths:  FGM increases risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, etc.) and newborn deaths. There are a range of childbirth complications that can be associated with FGM.

FGM leads to menstrual problems: FGM causes menstrual problem (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.).

FGM leads to psychological problems: Some of the negative psychological effects include feelings of anxiety, fear, bitterness and betrayal, loss of trust, suppression of feelings, feelings of incompleteness, loss of self-esteem, panic disorders and difficulty with body image.

FGM leads to infections:  Infection commonly occurs for a number of reasons; unhygienic conditions, the use of unsterilized instruments, applications of traditional herbs or ashes to the wound, contamination of the wound with urine, or binding of the legs following infibulation which prevents wound drainage. Septicaemia and tetanus may also develop. Wounds may fail to heal quickly because of infection, irritation from urine, underlying anaemia or malnutrition. It also leads discharge, itching, and bacterial vaginosis.

FGM leads to Severe Pain or Death: Excessive bleeding and pain during and after the cut can result to the death of the child involved, if the bleeding is not quickly controlled.  The pain, shock and the use of physical force by those performing the procedure are mentioned as reasons why many women describe FGM as a traumatic event.

FGM can lead to Sexual problems: Where a girl/woman is not properly cut, it can lead to pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, and this can make woman assume that her husband is not satisfying her.  Often times she may want to have intercourse with other men in a bid to get sexual satisfaction.

Written by:

Joseph Osuigwe Chidiebere

Executive Director, Devatop Centre for Africa Development

Initiator, End FGM Advocacy