An Investigative Study On The Attitude Of School Adolescent Students Towards Genital Mutilation

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An Investigative Study On The Attitude Of School Adolescent Students Towards Genital Mutilation


The main focus of this study was to find out the attitude of in-school adolescents in Eket Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria towards female genital mutilation. In order to achieve this goal a research questionnaire on the attitude of in-school adolescent were distributed in the area.

The data thus obtained were analyzed using simple percentage, t-test and analysis of variance (ANOVA). Based on the findings, the following recommendations were made.

Female Genital mutilation has not been found to contribute in any positive way to health but threatens it. In spite of the complications associated with the practice some people still hold fast to it. It is obvious that this is a factor responsible for the perpetuation of this harmful practice in our society.

Considering the factors mentioned above, the following are suggested as measures to eradicate female genital mutilation.

There should be a clear-cut policy statement by the Federal Government to abolish female genital mutilation.

The media should be more involved in enlightening the public on the harmful effect of genital mutilation.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Female circumcision has been a prevalent situation in many countries around the world, including Nigeria. However, with the increasing awareness on the role played by women in the social well-being of the community, female circumcision has become an issue of global concern. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) also known as Female Genital Cutting (FGC), Female circumcision, or Female Genital Mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is defined by the World Health Organization (2007) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organ for non-medical reasons. The practice of FGM is one of the most significant health and human right issues in the world (UNICEF 2005). Thorpe (2002) on his part describe Female Circumcision as excision, where part of the labia minora and the majora are stitched together and a hole left to allow the urine and menstrual blood to escape. In a similar vein, Amnesty International (1997) states that Female Circumcision is the removal of all or part if the labia minora and cutting of the majora to create raw surfaces which are then held firm by a collar over the vagina when they heal.

Although the exact origin of Female Genital Mutilation cannot be stated. There are some evidence suggesting that it originated from ancient Egypt (WHO 1996). An alternative explanation is that the practice was an old Africa rite that came to Egypt by diffusion. According to UNICEF (2005) the majority of FGM cases are carried out in 28 Africa Countries. In some countries (e.g Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan), prevalence rate can be as high as 98 percent in other countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Togo and Senegal, the prevalence rates vary between 20 and 50 percent. It is more accurate however to view FGM as being practiced by specific ethnic group, rather than by a whole country as communities practicing FGM straddle national boundaries. Until the 1950s FGM was performed in England and the United States as a common treatment for lesbianism, masturbation, hysteria, epilepsy and other so called “female deviances” (Reymond, 2007). In a study in Kenya and Sierra Leone it was revealed that most protestants opposed FGM while majority of Catholic and Muslims supported it continuation. (Ali, 2007). Also there was a direct correlation between a woman’s attitude towards FGM and her place of residence, educational background, and work status. (Mohamud, 2008). Demographic and Health Survey indicates that urban women are less likely than their rural counterpart to support FGM. Employed women are also less likely to support it. Women with little or no education are more likely to support the practice than those with a secondary or higher education. Data from the 2004 Sudanese Survey (of women 15 to 49 years old) show that 80 percent of women with no education or only primary education support FGM, compared to only 55 percent of those with Senior Secondary or higher schooling (Ali, 2007). FGM takes place in parts of the Arabian, Peninsula i.e Yemen and Oman, and is practiced by the Ethiopian Jewish Falachas some of whom have recently settled in Israel. It is also reported that FGM is practiced among Muslim population in parts of Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines (UNICEF 2008). As a result of immigration and refugee movement, FGM is now being practiced by ethnic minority population in other parts of the World such as USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. According to Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (2002) it is estimated that as many as 6,500 girls are at risk of FGM within U.K every year.

This diffusion has raised the issue of the need for human service provider to get involved in curbing FGM. One such providers are social workers, who by the nature of their training are equipped to stand against injustice and oppression (Zastrow, 2000). FGM according to Idowu (2008) is injustice and oppression against woman. The procedures in most cases according to Yoder (2003) are carried out by older women with no medical training. Anesthetics are not used and the practice is usually carried out using basic tools such as knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass and razor blades. Often iodine or a mixture of herbs is placed on the wound to tighten the vagina and stop the bleeding. The age at which the practice is carried out varies from shortly after birth to the labour of the first child, depending on the community or individual family.

The reasons for FGM are diverse, often bewildering to outsiders and certainly conflicting with modern western medical practices and knowledge. The justification for the practice is deeply inscribed in the belief systems of those cultural groups that practice it. Custom and tradition are the main justification given for the practice (Muganda 2002).People adheres to this practice because it’s part of their culture and fulfilling this aspect of culture gives them a sense of pride and satisfaction.

According to Ali (2007) FGM is seen by some people as an essential part of social cohesion and not an act of hate. It is carried out on children because their parents believe it is in their best interest, which is one of the myths of FGM. In some communities where FGM takes place, it is said to be because it is necessary for a woman’s honour and pride and uncircumcised woman will stand very little chance of getting married. FGM has also been said to be carried out to safeguard the chastity of a woman before marriage (Johnson, 2008). Some others also use it as a means of controlling and de-sexualizing women and repressing sexual desire thus reducing the chance of sexual promiscuity in marriage on the part of the woman (Johnson, 2008). There are also others who claim that FGM is performed for aesthetics and hygiene Idowu(2008). The practice is carried out as means of purification and ensuring that a woman is clean (UNICEF 2008).

In some societies, the practices is embedded in coming-of-age rituals, sometimes for entry into women’s secret society, which are considered necessary for girls to become adult and responsible members of the society (Johnson, 2008). Girls themselves may desire to undergo the procedure as a result of social pressure from peers and because of fear of stigmatization and rejection by their communities if they do not follow the tradition (Behrendt, 2005). Thus in cultures where it is widely practiced, FGM has become important part of the cultural identity of girls and women and may also impart a sense of pride, a coming of age and a feeling of community membership (UNICEF, 2005). FGM is a procedure which causes a number of health problems for woman and girls. There is a great deal of evidence indicating extremely detrimental long and short term health consequences (UNICEF 2002). Although, there are virtually no documentation on the social psychological and psycho-sexual effects of the practice, but it is clear from anecdotal evidence of women’s experiences, that FGM affects women adversely in various areas of their lives.

In Nigeria, the practice of FGM is widespread among tribes and religious groups where the milder forms are done except in south-south region where infibulations the total closing of the vulva is done but usually after age five (Nigeria Demographic and Health survey, 2003). It is done more among the poorly educated, low socio-economic and low social-status groups (ND HS 2003). Although UNICEF (2005) gave the national prevalence of FGM of 61% among Yoruba, 45% among Ibo and 1.5% among Hausa-Fulani ethnic group, this making it a greater problem in southern Nigeria. Akwa Ibom State is one of the state in southern Nigeria therefore one may assume that FGM also occurs there. However, the authenticity of this claim is not known as there have not been any studies done to check if actually FGM exist in Akwa Ibom State. This study therefore hopes to determine if FGM actually exist as of today in Akwa Ibom State or if it was something that happened in the past.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The term Female Genital Mutilation refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organ for non-medical reasons. FGM has known health benefits on the contrary. It is known to be injurious to girls and women in many ways with short and long term health consequences (UNICEF, 2007).

For one to actually appreciate the magnitude of the situation, it will be instructive to consider some data as presented by (WHO 2006). An estimated 100 million to 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone Female Genital Mutilation and more than 3 million girls are at risk for cutting each year on the Africa continent alone( WHO 2008).

Foundation for women’s Health, research and Development (2002) estimates that there are presently 86,000 first generation immigrant and refugee women and girls in the UK who have undergone FGM in their countries of origin with more than 7,000 girls at risk.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reported on 16th August in 2006 that in Cameroon, FGM is carried out in a barbarous manner by traditional midwives with no medical training, without anesthetic and rudimentary instrument. It can give rise to serious complications. Sometimes resulting in death.

According to official estimates Cameroon currently has a population of some 17 million, 52 percent of them are women. The United Nations figures suggest that around 20 percent of these women are victims of FGM. An experience that can occur at various ages at birth, during adolescence, just before marriage or even after the birth of their first child.

In Nigeria there are report that in spite of the law prohibiting FGM, the practice still persist. According to UNICEF (2007) one third of women between the ages of 15 and 49 had undergone FGM of the country’s 42 ethnic groups, only four (thluo, Luhya, Teso, and Turkana) constituting 25 percent of the country’s population did not traditionally practice FGM. According to the NGO Maendeleoya Wanawake (Development of Women), the percentage of girls undergoing the procedure were 80 to 90 percent in some district of eastern, Nyanza, and Rift valley provinces.

According to a 2002 World Health Organization’s Study, about 60% of the Nigerians total female population have undergone one form of female Genital mutilation or the other. Also a 2001 United Nations development Systems Study reported that 32.7 million Nigeria women have been affected by the same practice. Between 2000 and 2001, a study conducted by the center for Gender and Social Policy Studies. Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria was contracted by the following Organization World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA), the Nigeria Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health. The study covered 148,000 women and girls from 31 states of the country came out with a revelation that all the four different types of Female Genital Mutilation identified so far, are being practiced in all the ethnic communities in Nigeria except the Fulani Ethnic Group in the North Western part.

Another disturbing trend in this matter is that despite the fact that Nigeria was one of the five countries that sponsored a resolution at the forty-six World Health Assembly calling for the eradication of FGM in all Nations; the practice is still very rampant in the country. Apart from its hazardous health effects, FGM has been known to be one of the most offensive means of violating the fundamental rights of women and female children so recognized by various domestic and international legal instruments (Amos, 2004). Recent review have suggested that FGM may increase the risk of HIV. Kankiet (2002) reported that Senegalese prostitutes who had undergone FGM had a significantly increased risk of HIV infection when compared to those who had not.

Female genital mutilation is associated with a series of health risk and consequences. Almost all those who have undergone FGM experience pain and bleeding as a consequence of the procedure (Obermeyer, 2005). The intervention itself is traumatic as girls are usually physically held down during the procedure (Chalmer, 2007).

Those who are infibulated often have their legs bound together for several days or weeks thereafter (Talle, 2002) other physical and psychological health problems occur with varying frequency.

Based on the foregoing, this study intends to investigate the issues of FGM in Edo seeks to find answers to the question of whether FGM is a myth or reality and to determine if it has relationship with factors like religion and residential location.

1.3 Objectives of this Study

The objectives of the study are as follows:

  1. To find out if FGM exist in in Eket Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom.
  2. To determine if there are differences between those who believe that FGM exist and those who do not believe on its existence
  3. To ascertain if FGM as ever existed in in Eket Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom
  4. To ascertain the implication of FGM for social work practice in Nigeria
  5. To find out if religion has a role to play in the promotion or otherwise of FGM
  6. To find out factors that may otherwise influence the existence of FGM

1.4 Research Hypotheses

To aid the completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher

  1. H0: female genital mutilation does not have any effect on the sexual habit of the girl child
    H1: female genital mutilation does have a significant effect on the sexual habit of the girl child
  2. H0: government does not play any significant role in prohibiting female genital mutilation
    H2: government does play a significant role in prohibiting female genital mutilation

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is significant in two dimensions which are theoretical and practical. Theoretically it is hoped that the outcome of this study will constitute a scientific body of knowledge that will become a point of reference for other scholars who would want to carryout similar research. It will also add to existing knowledge of FGM in southern Nigeria. Practically it is hoped that this study will assist government in re-evaluating existing policies so as to come up with a more realistic programmes and policies towards the eradication of FGM in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria in general.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The study is on the myth and realities of female genital mutilation in Edo state. It seeks to find out if FGM truly exist in the state. The entire adult male and female population constitutes the study population out of which a sample of four hundred adult men and women will be used for the study. In the cause of the study, the researcher encounters some limitations which limited the scope of the study;

Time Constraint:

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

Inadequate Materials:

Scarcity of material is also another hindrance. The researcher finds it difficult to long hands in several required material which could contribute immensely to the success of this research work.

Financial Constraint:

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

1.7 Definition of Terms


Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobile ova (egg cells). Barring rare medical conditions, most female mammals, including female humans, have two X chromosomes.

Female Genital Mutilation:

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common

Reproductive Health:

Within the framework of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, reproductive health, or sexual health/hygiene, addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of life. Reproductive health implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safer sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. One interpretation of this implies that men and women ought to be informed of and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of birth control; also access to appropriate health care services of sexual, reproductive medicine and implementation of health education programs to stress the importance of women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth could provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.

1.8 Area of Study

The study is on Female Genital Mutilation. The research will be carried out in Akwa Ibom. However the researcher decided to focus on Eket Local Government Area, which is one of the developed cities in Akwa Ibom State.

Akwa Ibom is a state in Nigeria. It is located in the coastal southern part of the country, lying between latitudes 4°32′N and 5°33′N, and longitudes 7°25′E and 8°25′E. The state is located in the South-South geopolitical zone, and is bordered on the east by Cross River State, on the west by Rivers State and Abia State, and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean and the southernmost tip of Cross River State.

Akwa Ibom is one of Nigeria’s 36 states, with a population of over five million people. The state was created in 1987 from the former Cross River State and is currently the highest oil- and gas-producing state in the country. The state’s capital is Uyo, with over 500,000 inhabitants. Akwa Ibom has an airport and two major seaports on the Atlantic Ocean with a proposed construction of a world-class seaport Ibaka Seaport at Oron. The state also boasts of a 30,000-seat ultramodern sports complex. Akwa Ibom state is also home to the Ibom E-Library, a world-class information centre. In addition to English, the main spoken languages are Ibibio, Annang, Eket and Oron.

Eket Local Government Area was created in 1989 by the Local Government (Basic constitutional and Transitional Provisions Degree No. 15 of 1989). Prior to this historic political exercise, the geographical area now called Esit Eket was part of Uquo Ibeno Local Government Area. Esit Eket Local Government Area is presently made up of two clans namely: Eket Offiong and Eket Afaha which are held together by common tradition, customs and ancestral relationship.

The Local Government headquarters is at Uquo. There are 23 recognised villages in the Local Government Area, although some omitted in the villages are yet to be gazetted. These villages are spread across the development zones A, B and C.

1.9 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (background of the study), statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc. Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter. Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is pertinent to note that this research was aimed at cross examining the effects of circumcision on the girl’s health, thus the topic “an investigative study on the attitude of school adolescent students towards genital mutilation”.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges associated with the girl child genital mutilation in Nigeria.

5.2 Summary

From the findings of this study it showed that a considerable proportion of Eket local government indigenes reject the continuation of Femal Genital Mutilation/Circumcision. They also intended to totally abolish this practice by arresting anyone subjecting their own daughters to FGM/C, although some of elderly women reported to have already performed it during their ancient traditional practice. These elderly women uncover a number of factors impelling female circumcision in the district then. These include cultural beliefs, norms and tradition, as well as to the economic conditions. For instance, fear of giving birth to disabled children, escaping cultural effects, acquiring social acceptance and respect, preserving cultural norms and tradition, building a woman with confidence and the spirit to endure pains, cleaning a woman, and reducing sexual addiction to a female, circumcisers raise income, and the circumcised to get money and gifts at dancing ceremony.

In addition, it was apparent from the study findings that the practice was characterized by a variety of problems that it causes to its victims. The most identified ones include much bleeding to young girl at the time of circumcision and during child delivery, death to mothers while in maternity, pain, trauma and stress to young girls when done unwillingly, reduction of sexual desire and stimulation to women. Among impacts are violation of human rights and gender, reduction of sexual satisfaction to women, and pain during sexual intercourse, as well as infections. Moreover, the results of the investigation showed that, the practice of female circumcision is too problematic to the performance of adolescent school girls as it was reported by the majority of women in the area of study.

5.3 Conclusion

A number of factors have been identified as most contributing to the ancient practice of female circumcision in the region, referring to cultural beliefs, norms and tradition, as well as to the economic conditions, which involve fear of giving birth to disabled children, escaping cultural effects, acquiring social acceptance and respect, circumcisers raise income, and the circumcised to get money and gifts at dancing ceremony. The findings have revealed that, female parents and grandparents prevail the most in enforcing the continuation of this practice, and school girls of age between 6 and 13 as the most targeted by the practice. Similarly, about 30% of primary post primary school girls are victims of female circumcision in Eket Local Government Area. The findings of the study have revealed that, the practice of female circumcision does have negative effects to adolescent students and women in general. And the community in Eket Local Government Area have negative perception toward uncircumcised women in the community. Therefore, most of factors impelling female circumcision practice in Eket Local Government Area have shown to be culturally bound which indicate a linkage between the social construction theory and the findings of this study.

5.4 Recommendations

In order to rectify the aforementioned negative state of affairs as regards to the effects and impacts of female genital mutilation to adolescent students the study suggests the following recommendations to the government and policy makers and activists of the related issues.

  1. Government should plan and conduct surveys and investigations everywhere in the country to determine the socio-cultural values associated to this practice and conduct open discussions with community members in order to get their insights toward female circumcision. This should enable the government and other parties in establishing policies and plan measures to address the situation.
  2. The government and non-governmental organizations personnel should plan and conduct public awareness campaigns in order to mobilize the community, especially fathers and mothers in Akwa Ibom State and the rest of the country to understand and identify the negative effects of this practice to women and community in general.
  3. It is also recommended that seminars and workshops should be organized, awareness through pamphlets and leaflets to intensify effort in assisting the students know the dangers of female genital mutilation to adolescent students in the region.

An Investigative Study On The Attitude Of School Adolescent Students Towards Genital Mutilation

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