Female Genital Mutilation: Why Won’t I Cut My Daughter?


Reuters | James Akena

   The research was made possible with support from Code for Nigeria via the Naija Data Ladies programme.

A visit to Ajegunle market in Oyo state reveals that Nigeria still has a long way to go in eradicating FGM. The practice is deeply rooted in cultural beliefs, so it really difficult to convince people of its dangers.

“Haha.. why won’t I cut my child?” was the common statement we heard when we asked if their female children were mutilated. This is always accompanied with a “I don’t believe you asked that question” look.

While some believe that the practice prevents promiscuity, some believe that it will ensure safe child birth. These are not true.

Alhaji Adaramoja,  a 68-year old grandfather, said he cut his female children because he met it as a tradition and handed it over to his children, who also cut their daughters.

A father of one, Hamzat Hammed said, he cut his 6-year old daughter to prevent her from being promiscuous, while insisting that the practice is a must for every female child.

Esther Waheed, a pregnant mother of one, explained that she had to cut her daughter because the culture of FGM was a strong one.

35-year old Motunrayo was cut as a child and so, her parents insisted on cutting her daughter.

Many of the women who confessed to being cut by their parents, explained that they also cut their children.

The Demographic and Health Survey 2013, shows that if a mother was cut it is highly likely that she will cut her daughter.

Surprisingly, some who believe that FGM has nothing to do with promiscuity, still cut their children.

Mama Moni said, “Yes, I cut my child but FGM has nothing to do with promiscuity. A female child that is cut can be promiscuous likewise one that is not cut.”

However, few women said they were not cut, neither did they cut their children. Omolara Azeez, a mother of two girls, said none of her female children was cut.

Selimot Kamorudeen explained that neither her nor her children were cut because her family was a little educated.

Meanwhile, for Ibikunle Aminat, she doesn’t know whether she was cut or not. “I don’t know if I was cut because I never asked my parents. I also didn’t do it to my children because I’ve been hearing that FGM is bad, since I got married,” she said.

For a particular woman, who did not want to be named, she explained that she was cut but was not willing to tell if she cut her children. However, her countenance gave her away, because she sounded like her daughter was cut against her will, which explains the influence of a higher authority in the person of a spouse or an inlaw. According to her, “ I have a female child but I can’t tell you anything and I don’t want to lie because I am a Christian,” she said, despite the pressure mounted on her.

Rofiu Fatimo, a mother of two female children said, “I have two children. A 12 and 18 years old and they were cut at the hospital. I’ve been hearing about the dangers of FGM for a very long time but I was told that if a female child is not cut, she would be promiscuous  and she will not satisfy her husband.”

According to the DHS 2013, 11.9 % of girls and 12.7 % of women have undergone FGM by a medical professional.

From findings, the nurses who carry out the practice are often natives who believe strongly in the culture, and this makes the fight against the act difficult because it is carried out in secrecy.

Oftentimes, girls are cut in unsanitary conditions, with unsterilised equipments and no anesthesia. According to Hammed Hamzat, the shell of a snail is also used to cut the clitoris, while the snail slime is administered to treat the wound till it heals.

This method is quite risky because FGM is carried out between infancy and age 15 and this leads to infections, health complications and other times, death.

For some, the campaign against FGM was an affront to culture, with the claim that civilisation ‘destroyed’ everything, and it would take a traditional ruler or their state governor to convince them.

Although, with a little resistance, some accepted that there was indeed nothing beneficial about FGM, some were just confused and didn’t  know what to do.

Ruka Morufu, a 23-year old mother of four, said she wasn’t sure what to do because she had been hearing different things about FGM, hence, the delay in cutting her children. “I have three daughters. I cut my first daughter but I’m yet to cut my second and third because we’ve been postponing it. I’ve been scared that I’ve not cut my last two daughters because I’ve been hearing a lot about the dangers of not cutting them.” But after she was educated on the dangers of FGM, she promised not to do it.

The Programme and Media Manager of Onelife initiative for Human Development, Sola Fagorusi explained that the people of Oyo like every other people, still have a strong affiliation with their background, with the belief that FGM has to be sustained.

He explained that after the clitoris is cut, it is given to the parents to keep in a safe place.

“Parents keep the clitoris within blocks so that dogs do not eat it, as they believe that it may cause the child to be promiscuous. In another community, the clitoris is tied round the wrist of that child believing that it wards off evil spirit from her.”

He added that it was possible for a woman not to know she was cut  because her organ is within and may not be conversant with the correct makeup of it.

According to him, the child rights law in Oyo state faces the challenges of implementation and the government is not doing what they should.

He explained that if it was in a situation where a girl died immediately she was cut, and it became an epidemic, the government would intervene. “For government around here, it’s always when there is an emergency,” he said.

On the circumcisers, ‘Fagunrosi explained that each time they were engaged on stopping the act, they ask for another source of livelihood, which is an affront on the law and the government. “We are not keen on engaging with the circumcisers again because everytime they come and say we’ve abandoned our knives, there’s several other knives at home.”

Some circumcisers, who accepted to stop the practice, said they would have to double the charge for the boy-child and it ranges between N1,000 and N1, 500 and sometimes, they get food in exchange for the service.

‘Fagunrosi also confirmed that FGM has indeed been medicalised.

“Medicalisation of FGM actually exists, however, it is shrouded in secrecy because they know it is a crime. They do it in a very discrete way  because the NMA has an official position around this. Any doctor that is caught will lose his or her license.”

On his experience on the field, ‘Fagunrosi shared the story of a woman whose daughter had to be operated on because she started growing keloids in her vagina. He also told the story of a young lady who would have been cut but for her 16-year old cousin who died after she was cut.

He explained that his NGO is trying to make sure that the demand for FGM is killed by educating as much people as possible.

Even though the discussion around the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) started since 1993, not much has been achieved.

Female Genital Mutilation involves the total or partial removal of all part of the female genitalia for cultural or medical reasons and it has continued to thrive, marring the lives of female children in different communities.

According to the World Health Organization,  Nigeria has the highest prevalence rate of FGM in the world, with about 40 million women, who have undergone the practice. The 2013 DHS indicate, the top 5 states with FGM prevalence are Osun with 76.6%, followed by Ebonyi with 74.2%, Ekiti – 72.3%, Imo – 68% and Oyo-65.6%.






    July 31, 2017 at 11:50 am

    The high prevalence of FGM is alarming. This shows that gov’t is playing lip service to rural health and enforcement of safe health practices.
    While sensitization is good, enforcement and interventions from higher authorities will go a long way in ensuring safer health practices in rural communities.



      July 31, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      This piece is quite revealing. It has done well to raise questions, point out reasons and the threats that FGM poses.
      Female Genital Mutilation is what i call “Man’s inhumanity to man”
      To think that civilization threatens our “culture” in this regard is fallible.
      The African Traditional configurations have in a stereotypical way plunged us into retrogression and savagery. It’s a cruel adventure.
      The health hazards that FGM poses are limitless.
      The Government with the support of NGOs need to do more in awareness and prosecution of perpetrators of this inhumane act.


    Musa Temidayo

    July 31, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    The road to FGM eradication will not be an easy one in these states that are like the strongholds and keeper of our ancestral culture. There is need to more orientation to traditional mid-wives and unlicensed delivery homes for pregnant women.
    In my own experience, Some locals still believe it is a cultural obligation to do and they have to be the custodian of such practices because they feel the “West” is trying to encroach and change their culture by tell them to stop it.
    We have a long road to walk in this country.



    July 31, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    This piece is quite revealing. It has done well to raise questions, point out reasons and the threats that FGM poses.
    Female Genital Mutilation is what i call “Man’s inhumanity to man”
    To think that civilization threatens our “culture” in this regard is fallible.
    The African Traditional configurations has in a stereotypical way plunged us into retrogression and savagery. It’s a cruel adventure.
    The health hazards that FGM poses are limitless.
    The Government with the support of NGOs need to do more in awareness and prosecution of perpetrators of this inhumane act.



    August 1, 2017 at 8:12 am

    It’s quite unfortunate this FGM is still rampant.. Even upon all d seminars organized by state governments.. Osun state even has binding laws with sanctions against FGM. 1 don’t know how effective/helpful it has been though.. But probably others can follow suit.


    Jolaade Philips

    August 1, 2017 at 9:20 am

    You know this is quite scary! I know quite well that people don’t change unless they see a reason or need to. But it’s more disturbing when people eventually see the need to change and the dangers that accompanies their lack of change and they still decide not to change . Educating them about the dangers FGM is very good and impacful but the government needs to step up and enforce laws. This would make any one who engages in this act punishable by the law when caught. I believe after having a handful of scape goat things should be better. I know some would still practice in the corner of their rooms but really! Let the government take this serious.



    August 1, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Very simple and conscise. I love how it’s straight to the point, while at the same engaging the average reader with the different conversations on the subjects.
    However I feel the article was rather silent on solutions. We need more of enlightenment in the areas of rural awareness etc Yes the NGO guy is doing lots but how far are they willing to go?
    A state like Lagos am sure probably have legislations.
    How about engaging female lawmakers in oyo for example who can champion the cause. Sponsor bills to legalize these things. Since the average rural person readily agrees with whatever BS they get from the govt.
    By so doing, govt support is gotten, funds become even available to push things on a state wide level among other things
    My two cents.


    Oluwanifemi Aina

    August 1, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Quite an interesting read. Going by what we have here, I can tell we have a long way to go especially in our part of the world. However, with persistence I am sure the eradication of the practice is achievable. I hope there will be updates and look forward to reading them.



    August 4, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Well, I think circumcision like other cultural values can be likened to a “sacrifice” and it’s obvious we don’t joke with our ethics around here. But then, its been known to be a major source of blood related disease and this means it has to stop and the only way this can be achieved is through orientation and enlightenment. Parents need to see and know the dangers and effects of FGM

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