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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Evidence Shows that Childbirth Complications Linked to Female Genital Mutilation

Monday, February 6th, 2012

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Ahead of the International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation marked yearly on February 6th, a review of the evidence by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa Countdown to 2015 MDG Campaign shows that the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria continues to pose great risks for millions of women, young girls and their infants during and after birth.

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is founded in traditional beliefs about female chastity, initiation into womanhood and even the mistaken belief that it helps delivery of babies. UNICEF estimates that there are 115 to 130 million circumcised women worldwide. In African countries, more than 90 million girls and women over the age of 10 years are estimated to have undergone FGM, and around 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing the procedure each year. Nigeria in the past had the highest absolute number of cases of FGM in the world, accounting for about one quarter of the total number of circumcised women. But advocacy, sensitisation and legislation have driven down the numbers in recent years. Nevertheless the practice continues unchecked in many parts of the country, with Oyo and Ebonyi States recording as high as 83% prevalence as recently as 2008.

In the statement in commemoration of this year’s FGM Day, the Foundation affirmed that the risk of dying during childbirth increases greatly for both the mother and the infant if the mother has been genitally mutilated, and that interventions on maternal mortality often do not adequately address the problem of female genital mutilation.

“The World Health Organisation FGM obstetric outcome journal 2010 (a collaborative prospective study in six African countries) has established that women with FGM are significantly more likely than those without FGM to have adverse obstetric outcomes, with a significant number having obstructed labour, postpartum haemorrhage and extended hospital stay. Also, FGM is estimated to lead to extra one or two perinatal deaths per hundred deliveries. It is therefore very essential that FGM is not ignored when addressing the problem of maternal mortality in Africa.”

The weight of evidence has informed the foundation’s position that FGM of any type “is a violation of the human rights of women and girls, with proven psychosexual consequences. It is known to cause blood-borne diseases and infection, including painful menstruation and infertility. The risks are evident in the huge number of trauma cases we witness each year, and its eradication calls for urgent attention from all concerned to put a stop to this painful and gruesome practice.”

The Foundation therefore called on government and all stakeholders in maternal, newborn and child health to pay greater attention to FGM and enforce the corrective measures embarked upon in the past few years in addressing practice.
“Advocacy and sensitization programs must continue and legislations at the federal and state levels outlawing all forms of FGM should be enforced; other gaps that aid in the perpetration of the practice in Africa should be addressed as part of a holistic approach to women’s and children’s health,” the Foundation said.