Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality

Intergenerational Attitude Change regarding Female Genital Cutting in Yoruba Speaking Ethnic Group of Southwest Nigeria: A Qualitative and Quantitative Enquiry

Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality

Intergenerational Attitude Change regarding Female Genital Cutting in Yoruba Speaking Ethnic Group of Southwest Nigeria: A Qualitative and Quantitative Enquiry

Article excerpt

Introduction

Female genital cutting (FGC) is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. The practice also violates a person's rights to be free from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to life when the procedures result in death (WHO, 2010). Female genital cutting has been widely condemned by International Organizations and Feminist Groups all over the world due to the health outcomes it has for women, and because it is an abuse of the women's Fundamental Human Rights (Alo and Adetula, 2005). A worldwide consensus was reached at the International Conference on Women and Development (ICWD) held in Cairo in 1994 where the practice was recognized as a set back on women's rights and major life long risk to women's heath.

Female genital cutting consists of all procedure that involve partial or total removal of the external genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is estimated that between 100-140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences, while in Africa an estimated 92 million girls and women have undergone female genital cutting (WHO, 2010). The practice is most common in the western, eastern and north eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East and among certain immigrant communities in North America and Europe (Okumepira, 2010). It has also been reported to occur in individual tribes in South America and Australia (WHO, 1999). To a lesser degree female genital cutting is practiced in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, New Zealand and United States (WHO, 2009).

In the mid 1990's, World Health Organization and many other groups adopted the term genital mutilation to describe the cutting of female genitalia. Some other interventionist groups have adopted female genital surgeries (Obermeyer, 1999). A number of specialists have objected to the term mutilation, because the term is judgmental and implies disrespect (Elias, 1996), USAID recommended a neutral term 'Female genital cutting' and this is preferred by an increasing number of researchers. This is the position adopted in this article. Female genital cutting (FGC) is used in this article to refer to all forms of female circumcision, female genital mutilation and the removal of any part of the female genitals at whatever age.

The types of FGC vary from a simple pricking of the clitoris, to removal of all the female genitalia, and almost complete closure of the virginal area (infibulations). Based on the classification of Toubia (1994), WHO categorized the practice into the following four types:

* Total or partial removal of the clitoris (Clitoridectomy).

* Removal of the clitoris and part of the labia manora (Excision).

* Removal of the clitoris, the labia minora, and the labia majora, with tighter

* closing of the vaginal opening (Infibulations).

* Any variant of the above.

FGC is carried out using various types of unsterilized instrument which include special knives, scissors, scalpels, and pieces of glass or razor blades. The procedures are usually carried out by an elderly woman of the village who has been specially designated for this task or by traditional attendants. It has been documented that FGC has very serious health implications on the reproductive, physical and emotional health of girls and women. The immediate physical health consequences include: severe pain, heavy bleeding, shock, acute urinary infection, pelvic inflammatory diseases, risk of contacting HIV and Hepatitis B; while the long term consequences include difficulty passing urine, recurrent urinary tract infection, and infertility, loss of normal sex function, cysts and abscess on genitals, painful intercourse, problems in child birth, painful and difficult labour, etc. …

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