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Female Circumcision: Wickedness or Protection?

Would you want your daughter circumcised? This is a powerful but emotional question we want to examine. Female circumcision is an old practice in almost all communities in Nigeria, but rampant in rural and remote areas of the country.

In view of the attention now being given to women’s health through family education, family planning, population control education, and antenatal care, we feel we should also focus on this topic that has many implications for young and old women, family and the nation as a whole.

Circumcision is the act of removing the sensitive skin tissue from the genital part in the case of female and the removal of a similar skin tissue from the male genital organ. The practice of circumcision is well accepted for male children but for debate and controversial when done for female children. Emotions and counter emotions have been expressed also on this issue.

There are divided opinions on whether a female child should be circumcised or not. Advocates are convinced and are almost obsessed with their conviction while critics are not relenting in their campaign against the practices they describe as ‘orthodox’ but ‘unnecessary’.

Critics call female circumcision, ‘wickedness’, while advocates call it perfection, love, care, culture and control of infidelity. But the question is: who is right? Has female circumcision controlled infidelity? Has culture won the battle on morality?

In the Christendom, male circumcision is quite accepted but female circumcision not mandatory for acceptance into Christianity of baptism or salvation. Biblically, the male child should be circumcised by removing the fore skin of the penis after eight days of birth. However, the Holy book is silent about female circumcision because of their secondary role in Jewish religion.

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Survey among Nigerian girls show that they don’t like to be circumcised. They argue that the practice is dangerous and could make delivery difficult for them during labour.

The vagina is a small muscular canal extending from the curve to the uterus passing upwards and backward to the cervix. The clitoris is a small sensitive and erective tissue located at the upper part of the private part of ladies. The upper part is known as labia majora and they form the two lips of the vagina. It is like the skin which covers the penis in men. This skin is redundant in male children and that is why it is cut during circumcision of male children. It has also been medically wise as it is known to reduce the incidence of cancer of the penis among the men.

Female circumcision as is commonly known, is a surgical procedure to remove the end of the clitoris. When a female is said to have been circumcised it means her clitoris has been sliced off and what remains is like stumps. The rational for this old custom is to reduce the sexual appetite of the victim. However, evidence has shown that it is untrue, even if the woman has ten clitoris put together, it cannot make her libidinous or promiscuous. It is a matter of morality and upbringing.

In Nigeria, circumcision in government hospitals has long been outlawed, so most female circumcision done in the country today are done by quacks and traditional healers.

In the real sense of the practice, female circumcision has uncomfortable side effects.  It will be pertinent to realise that female circumcision is irrelevant, medical gurus have for long discovered that it should be discarded and these days, many female Nigerians are uncircumcised leaving it for ladies who came from the hinterland.

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One obvious disadvantage is that cutting the clitoris can make that part scar. It is a common knowledge that the vagina is elastic making it easy for expansion during labour. However, when the clitoris is cut, after healing it leaves behind long and large scare (scar tissue) making it rigid and inelastic so in most cases caesarian section has to be performed before the woman can deliver. The scar thus makes labour painful and delayed. Circumcision wound can also cause tetanus which is quite fatal. It has to be abolished in every culture.


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