Although certain authorities recently put the practice of Female genital mutilation, FGM, in Nigeria as down to 20%
According to the 2018 NDHS, an overall 20 per cent of women aged 15-49 are still required to be circumcised before their marriages.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently said the latest data on the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria revealed reduction from 25 per cent in 2013 to 20 per cent by 2018 but that in some traditional states like Edo, Delta, Ekiti and Ondo, this practice has not reduced.

The Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) in 2013 had also reported that the prevalence of FGM was above 20 per cent for women aged 15-49.

Giving the latest update after a walk against FGM in Abuja, the UNFPA resident representative in Nigeria, Ulla Müller, said the NDHS 2018 survey indicates a downward slope that is doubtful. The walk was held as part of activities to commemorate the recent International Day of the Girl Child.

The official said; “In Nigeria, according to the 2018 NDHS, an overall 20 per cent of women aged 15-49 have been circumcised, down 5 per cent from the 2013 NDHS. Across the five UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme for the elimination of FGM intervention states, FGM prevalence for women aged 15-49 is on a downward slope, although it is still unacceptably high across the states like Edo, Delta, Ekiti and Ondo.” She did not indicate if the assessment is still valid for 2021.

Quoting the NDHS 2013/2018 statistics, she said in Osun State, the prevalence of FGM reduced from 78 per cent to 45.9 per cent; Ebonyi: 74 per cent to 53.2 per cent; Gombe, 72 per cent to 57.9 per cent; Imo: 68 per cent to 61.7 per cent, and Oyo: 66 per cent to 31.1 per cent. Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Delta were not included on this list.

Ms Müller urged Nigerian youths and the digital generation to “develop skills to create quality contents; find, select and evaluate digital sources of information and use ICT to develop positive behavioural relationships that will contribute to the elimination of FGM in Nigeria”. She added that the UNFPA is working with youth-led organisations to reach Nigerian adolescents with accurate sexual and reproductive health information through digital tools and technology.

Also present at the event was the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen. She hoped that the walk creates awareness that will reduce the rate of FGM practises. “We need to provide more education by increasing advocacy on the health danger posed on girls and women by the practice of FGM,” the minister said, adding that; “The financial cost implication of treating complications on nation’s economy and the degradation of women dignity is higher than investments on prevention.”

In attendance also was Emmanuel Babayaro, Nigeria’s football star, and 1996 Olympics Gold medalist, who urged civil society groups and non-governmental organisations to synergise, noting that collaborations would help them achieve their goals faster.

The convener of the event and President of WAVE Foundation, Lola Ibrahim, indicated measures that could help to eradicate the harmful practice in Nigeria.

She said these measures could include translation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) into local languages, careful choice of words during sensitisation, and social services support for FGM survivors by the government at all levels.

FGM comprises any cutting that has to do with partial or total removal of the external genitalia or related injuries to the female genital organs for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons.

According to World Health Organisation, FGM has no health benefits and it harms girls and women causing trauma, pain, bleeding, infections, vaginal fistula and death in some cases.