Toyin Saraki advocates safe conversations to #endFGM
While legislation is welcome, Saraki said prevention will work more effectively than punitive measures, with an approach which combines safe conversations, education and initiative such as the Alternative Rite of Passage proving to be most successful.
“Continuous reinforcement, delivered by midwives, teachers and community leaders is an essential component of successful strategies, so too are partnership within communities, in particular those include men and boys”, she said.
To eliminate female genital mutilation by 2030, she said the most effective community and health-led initiatives must be studied.
“Let us take stock of the facts and carefully analyse the approaches that are proven to be most effective,” she said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defined female genital mutilation (FGM) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
FGM is conducted from days after birth to puberty and beyond. In half the countries for which national figures are available, most girls are cut before the age of five. Procedures differ according to the country or ethnic group.
The practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women’s sexuality, and ideas about purity, modesty and beauty. It is usually initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honour, and who fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters cut will expose the girls to social exclusion.
Health effects depend on the procedure. They can include recurrent infections, difficulty urinating and passing menstrual flow, chronic pain, the development of cysts, an inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth, and fatal bleeding.
There are no known health benefits of female genital mutilation.
“We can all play our part in educating and empowering communities to keep women safe,” Saraki concluded.