By Mbonu Onyinyechi Christiana
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as any procedure that involves partial or total removal of the external genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reasons (WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA 1997).
FGM which is widely recognized as a violation of human rights is deeply rooted in beliefs and perceptions over decades and generations.
According to NDHS 2018 data reports made available by UNICEF during a Media Dialogue on Data Driven Reporting, 20% of Nigerian women age 15 – 49 are circumcised and 19% of Nigerian girls under age 15 are also circumcised.
The data report revealed that the overall proportion of women who are circumcised decreased from 25% in 2013 to 20% in 2018.
Owing to this report, the prevalence of circumcision in the country seems to be decreasing.
Considering the ethnic groups in Nigeria, the prevalence of FGM is highest among Yoruba women (35%) and lowest among Tiv and Igala women (1% each).
Report further revealed that Urban women are more likely to have experienced FGM than rural women (24% and 16%, respectively) and the prevalence of FGM is highest in the South East (35%) and South West (30%) with the lowest in the North East (6%).
25% of circumcised women and 12% of women who are not circumcised believe that FGM is required by their religion while 46% of circumcised women and 79% of women who are not circumcised believe that the practice of FGM should not be continued.