Female Genital Mutilation Must Be Eradicated For Other SDG’s To Be Achieved
According to Pauline Tallen, Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Nigeria needs to address the problem of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in order to achieve a majority of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. She said this while speaking at the launch of the “movement for good to end FGM” in Abuja on Thursday. Minister Tallen said the 2030 SDG targets on health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work, and economic growth could not be achieved unless FGM is eradicated in the country.
She pointed out that the continuous practice of FGM denied girls and women the right to quality education and opportunities for decent work and their sexual and reproductive health is threatened. She explained that the procedure of FGM had no positive health benefit for girls and women whatsoever but rather caused more problems for them. According to her, “The resulting outcome of FGM are adverse haemorrhage, infection, acute urinary retention following such trauma, damage to the urethra or anus.”
She adds that during this procedure, the victim would struggle through the experience which would lead to health issues such as chronic pelvic infection, dysmenorrhea, retention cysts, sexual difficulties, obstetric complications, bleeding, prolonged labour, leading to fistula formation, amongst others. She further explained by saying, “The mental and psychological agony attached with FGM is deemed the most serious complication because the problem does not manifest outwardly for help to be offered.”
FGM, according to United Nations (UN), “comprises of all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons”. Internationally, it is recognised as a violation of human rights and the health and the integrity of girls and women.
The global body says that it aims to have the practice completely eradicated around the world by 2030. Over 200 million girls and women have been subjected to the harmful practice of FGM in 30 countries including Nigeria. With an estimated 19.9 million survivors, Nigeria accounts for appromixatley 10 percent of the 200 million FGM survivors worldwide.
Matthias Schmale, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator, spoke at the event and said that the prevalence of FGM amongst girls up to 14 years old is still on the rise. Mr. Schmale said 86 percent of these young children were mutilated before the age of 5. This means that FGM occurs in the early years of their life. He said, “What this tells us is that the perpetrators of this harmful practice are devising ways to circumvent surveillance and diminish the gains recorded over the years towards the eradication of FGM in Nigeria, by targeting infants who neither knows nor understand the enormity or magnitude of the practice they are being subjected to.” He explained that the practice of Female Genital Mutilation is handed over from generation to generation, and while culturally justified, is no longer acceptable. He noted that this practice violates women’s and girls’ rights to life, health, and dignity as well as their bodily autonomy.
“The time to end FGM in Nigeria is now and the responsibility to do so lies with us all.”
Emmanuelle Blatmann, the French Ambassador to Nigeria, said that at least 200 women worldwide have undergone genital mutilation and more might be affected by this in the coming years. Ms. Blatmann said Female Genital Mutilation contravenes the rights of every woman. According to her, “Indeed to promote the elimination of this scourge, coordinated and systematic efforts involving everyone are needed.”
Mary Leonard, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, remarked that Female Genital Mutilation harms women and girls across the continent and the US is working with its partners around the world to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence including FGM. Ms. Leonard has said that the US government has been steadfast in its partnership with Nigeria.
Mr. Schmale said that the movement that was launched will support innovative and safe platforms that are driven by youths who have pledged their commitment to end the practice of FGM using the hashtag “act to end FGM.” He mentioned that the expansion of digital literacy and an increased access to social media platforms in the country presented several opportunities to advance positive social norms that would promote the health and well-being of children and girls in particular.