A Survey Research To Examine The Effects Of Female Genital Mutilation: A Case Study Of Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria

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A Survey Research To Examine The Effects Of Female Genital Mutilation: A Case Study Of Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria


One of the most painful physical and emotional experiences for many women and young girls from developing countries is female genital mutilation. A contribution of demographic variables to prediction of attitude and knowledge of consequences of FGM among female civil servants in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria was carried out to determine this research circumcision of the female has been reported to give rise to major complications both to the mother and the young girl during delivery resulting in increased maternal morbidity and foetal loss. Female circumcision which is the partial or complete removal of the female external genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reason has been a controversial issue. It has caused a lot of problems to women and young girls in the region.

Chapter One


1.1 Background Of The Study

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). According to 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 confusion 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 its 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. Edo 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 Edo state. This study therefore hopes to determine if FGM actually exist as of today in Edo state or if it was something that happened in the past.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

Female genital mutilation is associated with a series of health risk and consequences to women undergoing FGM operations in and around the world.

The crude surgery of FGM come with pains causing the girls and women to scream bleeding and hemorrhaging followed with serious trauma

The process dehumanize the girls and women by bounding legs together and publicly exposing of the girl and women private parts.

  1. FGM increase risk of HIV infections and other infections.
  2. FGM is believed to reduce girl and women lubido for sex.
  3. FGM is believed to have adverse effect on women during child birth.
  4. FGM practice is based on religious and cultural belief.

1.3 Objectives Of This Study

  1. Who believe that FGM exist and those who do not believe on its existence.
  2. To ascertain if FGM as ever existed in Edo State.
  3. To ascertain the implication of FGM for social work practice in Nigeria.
  4. To find out if religion has a role to play in the promotion or otherwise of FGM.
  5. To find out factors that may otherwise influence the existence of FGM.

1.4 Research Questions

This study intends to offer answer to some pertinent questions surrounding the issue of female genital mutilation. These questions are:

  1. Does educational qualification of people affects their believe about female genital mutilation?
  2. Does female genital mutilation really exist in Edo State?
  3. Does lack of education contribute to the practice of female genital mutilation?
  4. Does the Christian/Islamic religions support the practice of female genital mutilation?
  5. Does female genital mutilation affect the sexuality of victims?

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 Edo state and Nigeria in general.

1.6 Scope Of 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.

1.8 Definition Of Terms


This means something that many people believe that does not exist or is false.


This means the true situation and the problem that actually exist in life.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM):

This means all procedures that involve partial or total removal of female external genitalia or injury to the genital organs for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reason. In this context the terms was used interchangeably with female circumcision or female genital cut.

A Survey Research To Examine The Effects Of Female Genital Mutilation: A Case Study Of Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria

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