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Female Genital Mutilation in Northern Nigeria

Nigeria, due to its large population, has the highest absolute number of female genital mutilation (FGM) worldwide, accounting for about one-quarter of the estimated 115–130 million circumcised women in the world. WHO has conducted a study of the economic costs of treating health complications of FGM and has found that the current costs for 27 countries where data were available totalled 1.4 billion USD during a one-year period (2018). This amount is expected to rise to 2.3 billion in 30 years (2047) if FGM prevalence remains the same – corresponding to a 68% increase in the costs of inaction. However, if countries abandon FGM, these costs would decrease by 60% over the next 30 years. Northern Nigeria has the least number of women who have been circumcised in the country, but with the worst form of Female genital mutilation. Type 3 Also known as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce/clitoral hood and glans (Type I FGM) prevalent in the region.  

We invited an Anti-FGM advocate who works in Abuja to talk about FGM in the North.

Muna Okoli

My name is Muna Okoli. I am a chartered accountant, a child, teen, youth, woman, and Anti-FGM advocate.I am the Abuja coordinator for the girdle network.I have been on this for almost 2 years now.

Northern Nigeria has the lowest prevalence rate in the country with the North-East at a 2.9% prevalence rate and the State of Katsina in the North West Zone records the lowest prevalence at 0.1%. This doesn’t rule out that FGM is not still carried out in the North.

The main reason for FGM remains to curb promiscuity in girls and women. Another is Family traditions, amongst other cultural beliefs. Although some people have tried to link FGM to Islam (the north is predominately Islamic), Senior Muslim religious authorities agree that FGM is neither required nor prohibited by Islam. The Quran does not mention FGM or male circumcision. FGM is praised in a few hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad) as noble but not required, though the authenticity of these hadith has been questioned.

The way to end FGM is Dialogue. Dialogue is further divided into 6 approaches.

Collective Choice

Community Exchange

Enabling Environment

Non-Judgemental Open Dialogue

Enough People see Change

Power through human rights.

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