Female Genital Mutilation: Basics, prevalence and statistics.

Female genital mutilation is almost becoming a household name, because of its prevalence and the relentless advocacy against this gruesome act by health organizations and social media advocates.

The World Health Organization defined female genital mutilation (FGM) as all procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia and /or injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reasons.The World Health Organization categorizes the FGM into four distinct classifications. 

Three of the four categories are further broken down into subcategories that classify the specific type of mutilation that was performed. Type I is known as clitoridectomy and includes any procedure that totally removes the clitoris and/or the prepuce. Type Ia is the removal of the clitoris hood or prepuce only while Type Ib includes the removal of both the clitoris and the prepuce. Type II, or excision, is the partial or total removal of the labia minora unrelated to any mutilation performed on the labia majora. Type IIa includes the removal of the labia minora only. Type IIb is the removal of the labia minora and the partial or total removal of the clitoris

Female genital mutilation is an unhealthy traditional practice inflicted on girls and women worldwide. It is widely recognized as a desecration of human rights which is deeply ingrained in cultural beliefs and perception over decades and generations with no easy task for change. In Nigeria there are still cases in which children at infancy and childhood age are being circumcised in isolation as a result of their cultural and religious beliefs, norms and myth and the likes. Despite the fact that the health risks associated with FGM are numerous, this harmful practice has continued unabated and the burden is high in low-income countries especially in Nigeria.

FGM is widely practiced in Nigeria, having the highest absolute number of cases of FGM worldwide and accounting for 25% of the estimated number of women circumcised worldwide.

In Nigeria, the topmost prevalence of FGM is seen in south-south region (77%), followed by southeast (68%) and southwest (65%)  However, it is being practiced on a lesser degree in the north although unexpectedly tending to have a more extreme form.

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