By KorikiyeTeke

In case you are joining us for the first time, FGM stands for ‘’Female Genital Mutilation”

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) includes all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, all of which are practiced in Nigeria.

FGM Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).

FGM Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

FGM Type III: This type is called infibulation and involves narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Nigeria, especially Imo State.

The practice of FGM is common in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. But it can also happen to any woman or girl from any background regardless of age, race, nationality, social class, financial status or sexuality.

FGM is widely recognized as a harmful practice and a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted discrimination against girls and women, profoundly entrenched in social, economic and political structures.

While de facto violent, the practice is perpetrated without a primary intention of violence. It is considered to be a necessary step to enable girls to become women and to be socially accepted, together with the rest of the family.

FGM functions as a self-enforcing social convention or social norm. Families and individuals uphold the practice because they believe that their group or society expects them to do so and they expect that they will suffer social sanctions if they do not.

For more information on basic facts about FGM and how you can be part of this campaign kindly visit www.endcuttinggirls.com and www.who.int. You can also watch end FGM related videos on our YouTube channel “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria”.

Ending FGM requires efforts at all levels. The UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM: Accelerating Change (January 2018 to December 2021) is accelerating efforts towards the reduction of FGM, fulfilling the rights of girls and women by realizing social and gender norms transformation by 2021.

In Nigeria, the UNJP is implemented by government agencies and civil society organisations, and supports policy formulation, service delivery and community-based activities in five states, namely, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun, and Oyo State

Despite the successes recorded in Nigeria, many women and girls that have experienced, or at risk of FGM, have poor access to the essential social services required to improve their general well-being.

Thus, there is a need to strengthen the system for providing quality social services to these girls and women in Nigeria.

The consequences of FGM can be social, physical, emotional and psychological.  These social problems include social exclusion, psychological distress, mental disorders, depression, and anxiety disorders (e.g. posttraumatic stress disorder). 

While extensive commitment to respond to, and prevent, FGM has occurred at a global level over the last decades, many women and girls still have poor access to the support and services that can empower them and improve their general well-being.

Thus, government commitment to addressing the FGM-related social issues is critical ameliorate this situation.

In an effort to end the practice, the Government of Nigeria has enacted laws and developed policies and programs to end FGM.

These include: Constitution of the Republic of Nigeria (1999-as amended); Violence Against Person (Prohibition) Act (2015); Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law (2017); and National Policy and Plan of Action on the Elimination of FGM in Nigeria (2013-2017).

Despite the prevailing supportive legal and policy framework to FGM prevention, management and response, many FGM survivors do not have access to essential social services due to the emphasis on the physical consequences of FGM, and the neglect of the psychological impact.

In order to respond to the diverse social needs of the women and girls who have experienced FGM, we need to provide Essential Social Services. 

These include, but are not limited to, psycho-social counselling, crisis information, safe accommodation, advocacy services, housing support. 

Unfortunately, most of these services are scarce in Nigeria, and many of the girls and women requiring these services are unaware of those available.

This is also compounded by the capacity gap amongst the social services providers, operating in a poorly coordinated referral system.  

To address the above gap, there is a need to enhance the referral system amongst social service providers and enhance their capacity to prevent and respond to FGM.

This will help strengthening access to FGM prevention, protection and care services in Nigeria.

In Imo State, Ministry of Gender and Vulnerable Groups Affiraswith Funds from @UNICEF_Nigeria, held a 1-day Training session for providers of Social services in Imo State.

After the meeting, the participants continued to offer their services to women and girls that have experienced FGM, VAC or VAWG. 

Some of the areas where these girls / women may require social services, as envisaged by the Joint Programme, are:

Supporting at-risk children and their families (e.g. temporary rescue shelter; helpline services, crisis information, rescue mission)

Providing psychosocial support (e.g. Counselling, Social Support and Therapy)

Organizing parenting program (home visits where girls at risk live)

Rehabilitative and reintegration services

Undertaking assessments and referrals

Sensitizing various social service providers including teachers, social welfare officers, etc.

The MGVGA UNICEF-Desk Officer will collect monthly service records from these service providers. 

The most important data required by the UNJP is the number of girls and women who have received social services related to FGM in Imo State, and the type of service provided.

This is an indicator under outcome, under the UNJP Results Framework, that shows that girls and women are receiving appropriate, quality and systemic services for FGM prevention, protection and care”. 

This data will be sent to UNICEF at the end of each month.

Inconclusion, by enhance the referral system amongst social service providers, access to FGM prevention, protection and care services is Strengthened.

To learn more about the @endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign to end FGM, please visit endcuttinggirls.org and follow our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls

Together we will end FGM in this generation.