Survivors narrate experiences coping with absence of the clitoris

One might nearly really feel the depth of her feelings as Osarieme Oziegbe, 28, advised the story of her beginning and recalled the ugly penalties of the elimination of her clitoris (genitalia) by a nurse in Benin Metropolis, Nigeria, as narrated to her by her mom.

The nurse had satisfied Ms Oziegbe’s mom to circumcise the brand new child as a part of the cultural rites of the Binis. She advised her that it validates the beginning of a lady baby.

Ms Oziegbe stated: “I learnt that after my supply, and the counselling by the nurse, my mother agreed to chop my clitoris however that she nearly misplaced me as a result of I bled uncontrollably. Thank God, I survived it.’’

Ms Oziegbe advised PREMIUM TIMES that she was struggling to cope with damaged relationships due to her lack of curiosity in sexual exercise. She stated she didn’t perceive why she had by no means discovered the fun of intercourse as talked about by her friends till she started asking questions.

“There have been occasions once I had younger males getting near me and looking for intimacy, however truthfully, the urge wasn’t there. I by no means felt something; my first sexual expertise wasn’t enjoyable. I all the time requested myself why individuals seek advice from intercourse as among the best emotions on the earth. I didn’t get the thrill, I understood that it wasn’t any of these.

“Even at occasions I attempted to discover my very own physique by touching myself, sure the urge comes, however inside just a few seconds, it’s all gone, I lose curiosity,” she added.

Ms Oziegbe believes her sexual experiences stem from the elimination of her clitoris.

About FGM

Feminine Genital Mutilation (FGM), the elimination of a part of the entire of the clitoris, is a type of discrimination in opposition to girls and ladies. It’s stated to be one of the crucial inhuman acts of gender-based violence (GBV) perpetrated in opposition to girls, and a violation of their human rights.

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FGM process
FGM course of

The method of FGM is principally carried out by conventional circumcisers, who usually play different central roles in communities, resembling attending childbirths. Nonetheless, in some components of Nigeria, healthcare suppliers carry out FGM. The process is taken into account safer when carried out by educated healthcare suppliers.

Nonetheless, the World Well being Organisation (WHO) strongly advises healthcare suppliers to not carry out FGM due to the quite a few short- and long-term results, which are sometimes unfavorable and may trigger everlasting injury to the victims or survivors.

A few of the rapid results of FGM, as highlighted by David Osifo, a medical physician and former commissioner for well being in Edo State, are infections and bleeding, “particularly when finished within the native setting, which might typically lead to dying.”

Is FGM an answer to promiscuity?

There’s a common perception among the many individuals of Bini in southern Nigeria that an uncircumcised feminine is a taboo. Circumcision on this a part of Nigeria is a mark of cultural identification, supposedly finished to stop promiscuity amongst younger girls/ladies. In addition they imagine that circumcision is hygienic and permits for protected supply throughout reproductive age.

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Proponents imagine that new infants might die in the event that they make contact with an uncut clitoris throughout supply.

Blessing’s ordeal

A few of the causes used to justify the act of FGM in Nigeria are to ‘protect virginity, curb promiscuity, and stop extra-marital intercourse or to guard feminine modesty and chastity. However the huge query is; does FGM actually curb promiscuity?

In contrast to Ms Oziegbe who lacks curiosity in sexual actions, Blessing (actual identify withheld) is one in all many Bini girls who’ve suffered from societal backlash and stigmatisation for participating in intercourse with a number of companions.

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Whereas sharing her story with PREMIUM TIMES, Blessing defined how ladies who are usually very sexually energetic and maintain a number of companions usually find yourself with demeaning identify tags resembling ‘ashawo’ (prostitutes) resulting from their busy intercourse lives.

She stated: “I assumed I used to be a intercourse addict as a result of I all the time felt like I couldn’t management the urge; I’d do something to get to a person. Sure, it acquired me into so many troubles; I all the time needed to misinform my mother and father, I stored late nights, I acquired talked about. That was probably the most painful half I confronted, backbiting.”

Blessing believes being lower early influenced her alternative of a number of sexual companions; as she wants a number of companions to achieve orgasm.

Blessing, a survivor
Blessing, a survivor

Mr Osifo agrees that that might be a cause.

Based on Mr Osifo, the previous well being commissioner, who now works on the College of Benin Educating Hospital (UBTH), the presence of the clitoris stimulates the lady and drives her to an early orgasm.

“Nonetheless, the absence of the clitoris as a stimulator makes it tough for the lady to climax to orgasm,” he stated.

The gynaecologist defined that after a person or lady reaches orgasm, they lose curiosity in sexual urges for a while. However females who’re circumcised lack the stimulation that initiates orgasms and are prone to keep longer throughout sexual activity.

This actuality he stated brings to gentle the extent to which FGM can affect the sexual relationships of survivors and the way they address the sexual and bodily challenges prompted by the apply.

Obazee Imafidon, a gender advocate, defined that one of many causes sexually energetic girls can’t stick to 1 sexual companion at a time is due to the dearth of the stimulator (clitoris), which creates an intimate bond between each events.

“At any time when they’re having intercourse, the person feels the sensitivity that takes him to the height, however the lady has no restrict and expects extra. So, in a nutshell, FGM doesn’t assist the feminine gender; it harms them.”

FGM prevalence

Also called Feminine Genital Slicing, FGM entails the partial or whole elimination of exterior feminine genitalia or different accidents to the feminine genital organs for non-medical causes. It could trigger extreme bleeding and issues urinating, issues throughout childbirth and an elevated danger of new child dying.

FGM has a variety of different results on the sexual reproductive well being of ladies and ladies. One is the ensuing limitation on or the shortcoming of survivors to make use of some components of the genitals.

With an estimated 19.9 million survivors, Nigeria has the third-highest variety of girls and ladies who’ve undergone FGM worldwide (accounting for 10 per cent of the 200 million FGM survivors worldwide). The prevalence of FGM is highest within the South-east (35 per cent) and South-west (30 per cent) and lowest within the North-east (six per cent).


FGM has a variety of results on the sexual reproductive well being of ladies and ladies. One is the ensuing limitation on or the shortcoming of survivors to make use of some components of the genitals.

Others embody extreme bleeding and issues urinating, later cysts, infections, issues in childbirth and an elevated danger of new child deaths.

Different long-term results of this conventional apply, in line with Mr Osifo, embody epidermal inclusion cyst or clitoridal cyst, which he stated is the commonest. “This an infection ends in the clitoris creating a swelling that continues to develop and typically seems like a penis.”

The gynaecologist stated many victims, on account of this, formulate psychological results related to having such a bulge of their perineum.

perineum bulge
perineum bulge

FGM as a type of sexual incapacity in girls

A incapacity means any situation of the physique or thoughts (impairment) that makes it tougher for the particular person with the dysfunction to do sure actions in the identical means as most individuals.

There have been a number of sorts of analysis on the nuances and impacts of incapacity. Nonetheless, a main under-explored type of incapacity is Feminine Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the way it impacts the intercourse and sexuality of ladies and ladies. Are victims of FGM experiencing a type of incapacity, and the way are their lives affected by it?

There may be the argument that FGM will be thought-about a incapacity as it’s a measurable impairment that interferes with a lady’s potential to make use of a few of her physique components.

This argument notes that victims of this dangerous apply face rapid penalties and probably long-term results, together with the lack of sexual functioning. As such, girls who’ve undergone FGM, like different individuals with numerous types of disabilities, evolve a number of methods that assist them address this incapacity.

Based on Mr Osifo, the whole elimination of the feminine genitalia usually finally ends up being a incapacity in girls when the labia minora is totally eliminated and makes it tough for the survivors to be impenetrable throughout sexual activity. There are additionally the consequences of lack of sexual needs in most ladies.

Dr Osarumwense Osifo
Dr Osarumwense Osifo

‘’In some circumstances of FGM, the vagina finally ends up closed and never pliable the way in which a traditional vagina could be, making penetration and childbirth an issue. I’ve needed to reconstruct even ladies who acquired married, and there’s no gap in any respect. They acquired married, and their husbands couldn’t penetrate or discover a means in; we then must reconstruct the vagina gap for them to realize entry,” the medical knowledgeable stated.

He added that others who can handle to have sexual activity normally have issue throughout childbirth “as a result of the vagina can’t broaden to accommodate the infants. We then must do an episiotomy to ship the infants.”

Are anti-FGM legal guidelines working?

Worldwide devices such because the Common Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Conference on the Rights of the Little one (CRC), the Worldwide Conference on Financial, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Beijing Declaration of 1995, present a framework for the promotion and safety of the rights of ladies and ladies.

They require nations together with Nigeria to supply an efficient framework for the safety of the rights of ladies and ladies. That is amplified by regional devices such because the African Constitution on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Protocol on the Rights of Girls in Africa, 2006 (the Maputo Protocol).

By advantage of the Nigerian structure, the ratification of worldwide treaties and devices, and the adoption of the SDGs framework; Nigeria is underneath obligation to respect, shield and fulfil the rights of ladies and ladies. Nonetheless, the rights of ladies and ladies stay adversely impacted by unfavorable and dangerous conventional practices, together with FGM.

Graphic on FGM laws
Graphic on FGM legal guidelines

“Legal guidelines in opposition to FGM in Nigeria solely on paper”

Ronke Ojekere is an govt member of the Edo State Gender-Primarily based Violence Administration Committee. She has through the years labored on tasks that search to guard girls and ladies in Edo from dangerous practices. Whereas highlighting a few of the legal guidelines that criminalise FGM within the state, Mrs Ojekere decried low implementation of those legal guidelines, saying they exist solely on paper.

Whereas accusing conventional beginning attendants and neighborhood well being employees of being enablers of FGM, the GBV knowledgeable known as for extra sensitisation to teach rural dwellers concerning the risks of the act.

She cited the case of a lady who had refused circumcision for her baby, however whereas unconscious, her mom, in connivance with the beginning attendant, went forward to chop her lady baby with out her permission. On this case, Mrs Ojekere questioned the extent to which the regulation will be evoked, saying it will be unfair and irrational for the lady to sue her mom for the act.

Additionally talking on the position of anti-FGM legal guidelines in defending girls and ladies in opposition to any type of violation, the chairperson of the Edo State chapter of the Worldwide Federation of Feminine Attorneys (FIDA), Violet Olumese, stated vital milestones have been recorded within the implementation of insurance policies such because the Violence In opposition to Individuals Prohibition (VAPP) Act through the years, together with the enactment of the laws.

Based on her, the challenges stay within the elimination of this apply all through the nation. “Thus, it’s crucial that the coverage be reviewed and a brand new one developed to supply the idea of actions/steps that can drive the implementation of interventions.”

Edo State FIDA Chair
Edo State FIDA Chair

The Nigerian Structure supplies in Part 34 that “no particular person shall be subjected to any type of torture, inhuman or degrading therapy or punishment.” Authorized consultants imagine that FGM falls underneath the previous classes and thus will be punishable underneath the part.

The Little one Rights Act (CRA), handed in 2003 in Nigeria, additionally has some provisions that outlaw this apply. Part 11(B) of the Act additionally supplies that “no baby shall be subjected to any type of torture, inhuman or degrading therapy or punishment.” These legal guidelines construct on current features and tackle rising gaps and challenges within the elimination of this dangerous apply and human rights violation. It additionally supplies a basis for additional actions to make sure the elimination of FGM in Nigeria.

International efforts to finish FGM

In 2007, the United Nations Inhabitants Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Youngsters’s Fund (UNICEF) initiated the Joint Programme on Feminine Genital Mutilation/Slicing to speed up the abandonment of the apply.

In 2008, WHO and 9 different United Nations companions issued an announcement on the elimination of FGM to assist elevated advocacy for its abandonment. Tagged “Eliminating feminine genital mutilation: an interagency assertion,” it offered proof collected over the earlier decade concerning the apply of FGM.

The process is principally practised within the western, jap, and north-eastern areas of Africa, in some nations within the Center East and Asia, and amongst migrants from these areas. FGM is, due to this fact, a worldwide concern that wants pressing consideration.

Gender consultants like Oyin Nwabuzor, the nationwide coordinator of the Affiliation In opposition to Little one Sexual and Gender-Primarily based Violence, admitted that there’s nonetheless a big hole to fill in eliminating the apply of FGM. She, nonetheless, believes that huge well being training and sensitisation concerning the risks of feminine genital reducing will result in a change within the behaviours of native enablers.

“We thank God that associations, NGOs, and faith-based organisations are on the forefront to behave as a stop-gap to the age-long apply. I encourage each one in all these organisations to maintain up with the combat for a greater society freed from all types of violation in opposition to girls. This can even give braveness to victims and survivors to talk up,” Mrs Nwabuzor stated.

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