With an estimated 19.9 million survivors, Nigeria accounts for the third highest number of women and girls who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) worldwide, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.
A UNICEF report signed by Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, UNICEF Nigeria, released to mark International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, bemoaned that the mutilation of the girls is epidemic in Nigeria. It partly read, “UNICEF today warned that female genital mutilation is on the rise among Nigerian girls aged 0-14. Rates have risen from 16.9 percent in 2013 to 19.2 percent in 2018, a worrying trend, according to UNICEF.
“Female genital mutilation (FGM) remains widespread in Nigeria”, it said.
While the national prevalence of FGM among women in Nigeria aged 15-49 dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2018, prevalence among girls aged 0-14 increased from 16.9 percent to 19.2 percent in the same period, according to NDHS figures.
An estimated 86 percent of females were cut before the age of five, while eight percent were cut between ages eight and 14.
As the world today commemorates the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM, 68 million girls worldwide were estimated to be at risk of female genital mutilation between 2015 and 2030, the report added. “As COVID-19 continues to close schools and disrupt programmes that help protect girls from this harmful practice, an additional two million additional cases of FGM may occur over the next decade.
“Millions of girls are being robbed of their childhoods, health, education, and aspirations every day by harmful practices such as FGM,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria.
“The practice of FGM not only has no health benefits – it is deeply harmful to girls and women, both physically and psychologically. It is a practice that has no place in our society today and must be ended, as many Nigerian communities have already pledged to do,” said Peter Hawkins.
Across Nigeria, disparities in the practice exist. State prevalence ranges from 62 percent in Imo to less than one percent in Adamawa and Gombe, the United Nations children agency said.
The prevalence of FGM is highest in the South-East (35 percent) and South West (30 percent) and lowest in the North-East (6 percent), it added.