FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION AWARENESS LEVEL AMONGST YOUNG PEOPLE IN BENIN CITY

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FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION AWARENESS LEVEL AMONGST YOUNG PEOPLE IN BENIN CITY

 

ABSTRACT

This study tries to investigate the factors influencing the practice of female genital mutilation among women: a case of Benin City. The main purpose of the study is to identify factors influencing the practice of female genital mutilation among women in Benin City. The study was guided by the following research objectives: to establish the influence of traditional beliefs on the practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); to assess the influence of illiteracy level on the practices of FGM; to establish the influence of sensitization on the practice of FGM; and to determine the influence of religion on the practice of FGM in Benin City. The research design was a descriptive survey method. The target population of this study consisted of the 30,500 resident from 2650 households in Benin City. A sample of 335 respondents was picked using simple stratified random sampling techniques from 2650 households in Benin City. In executing this study, both qualitative and quantitative methods were used. Qualitative methods was used included individual interviews and questionnaires. Data was then be analysed using SPSS such as descriptive statistics mean scores and standard deviations frequencies distributions and percentages. The study found out that, Women are given the respect they deserve after undergoing FGM. Also a woman is considered mature, obedient and aware of her role in the family and society if they undergo that practice. It is recommended that the local leaders together with other stakeholders should enforce women and girls’ rights through participatory/advocacy for education-in-culture and culture-in- education. The study concludes that  the practice of FGM is a social consequence that is affecting a number of women and young girls socially, psychological and physically. The campaigns needed to include topics on human rights violations and the harmful effects caused by FGM. Issues dealing with culture are so sensitive and therefore those planning to tackle the issue of female genital mutilation that is deeply rooted in culture and traditional beliefs, should have enough knowledge on other people’s culture and should not generalize culture. The study recommends that the local leaders together with other stakeholders should enforce women and girls’ rights through participatory/advocacy for education-in-culture and culture-in- education.

 

 

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION AWARENESS LEVEL AMONGST YOUNG PEOPLE IN BENIN CITY

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia (Bosch, 2011). The procedures differ according to the ethnic group. They include removal of the clitoral hood and clitoral glans (the visible part of the clitoris), removal of the inner labia and, in the most severe form (known as infibulation), and removal of the inner and outer labia and closure of the vulva (Antia & Stinson, 2009). The practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women’s sexuality, and ideas about purity, modesty and aesthetics. 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 exposed the girls to social exclusion. Over 130 million women and girls have experienced FGM in the 29 countries in which it is concentrated (Gruenbaum, 2006). The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 20 percent of affected women have been infibulated, a practice found largely in northeast Africa, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia and northern Sudan.

According to World Health Organization female genital cuttings area common problem in approximately 28 countries in Africa. In about 85% of these countries, female genital cutting takes the form: Clitoridectomy (where all or part of the clitoris is removed) or Excision (where all or part of the labia monorails cut) About 15% of the cases of this practice in Africa are of the most extreme form called infibulations in which all or parts of the external genitalia are removed followed by the stitching and narrowing of the vaginal opening. According to figures released by the World Health Organization, about 50% of Nigeria’s female population is circumcised with the most common forms being Clitoridectomy (Yoder, P. et al 2004). Despite all influence of modernization, earnest and conscientious activity such as awareness programs, public orientations, funding of researches, publication by the governmental and non-governmental organization and also private individual both at the National and

International level to eliminate this unfair practice, the practice is still in existence till date. In Nigeria, there are still cases in which children at infancy and childhood age are been circumcised in isolation as a result of their cultural and religious belief, norms and myths, and the likes. This study aims at putting light into the women knowledge and their practice of female genital cuttings, precisely among those women of reproductive age.

The practice of FGM in the UK focus only on minors. During the past decades several international and national humanitarian and medical organizations have drawn worldwide attention to the physical harms associated with FGM (Bosch, 2011). The World Health

Organization and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics have opposed FGM as a medically unnecessary practice with serious, potentially life-threatening complications (WHO, 2006). Several countries, including Sweden and the UK, have banned it regardless of consent, and the legislation would seem to cover cosmetic procedures. Sweden, for example, has banned operations on the external female genital organs which are designed to mutilate them or produce other permanent changes in them regardless of whether consent to this operation has or has not been given.

Developing countries over the last decades have experienced unprecedented growth in social, economic and cultural aspects. The development and the use of technologies to the increased access to education have changed the way individuals and groups inter relate with each other.

On the other side traditional patterns of culture, social and economic life persists and contributes to maintaining cultural malpractices, including FGM (Gruenbaum, 2006). These cultural malpractices stand in the way in the achievement of the Millennium Development

Goals Number 4 and 5 while disregarding progress that has already been achieved so far. Onuh et al., (2006) note various reasons have been given for the practice of FGM in these different geographical and cultural settings ranging from culture, religion to superstition. This is also supported by Oloo et al., (2011) who identifies that the main reasons for the continuation of FGM are firstly, as a rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood; a circumcised woman is considered mature, obedient and aware of her role in the family and society. Secondly, FGM is perpetuated as a means of reducing the sexual desire of girls and women, there by curbing sexual activity before, and ensuring fidelity within, marriage (Yoder, P. et al 2004).

In Africa FGM has been practiced for other reasons than those that border on cultural, traditional and religion. The main reason being the social and cultural significance of the practice as opposed to the medical justification of the practice in Europe and North America in the last two centuries (Yoder, P. et al 2004). Advances in Science and medicine could easily disapprove such medical justification unlike social and cultural aspects in the African context. In the FGM practicing societies in Africa, uncircumcised women are recognized as unclean and are not allowed to handle food and water.

It is also believed the practice of FGM is be known to have existed in ancient Egypt, among ancient Arabs in the middle belt of Africa before written records were kept. It is therefore difficult to document the first operation or determine the country in which it took place. However, documentalists suggest that FGM dates back to 25 B.C. (El Sadaawi, 1980;

Lightfoot – Klein, 1989). The most radical form, infibulation that the Somali community practices, is called pharaonic type. Although this might imply that the practice started in ancient Egypt, there is no certainty that it started in Egypt or some other African country then spread to Egypt. The pharaonic cut is more popular among the Muslim population in Africa (Bosch, 2011). Both Muslims and non-Muslims alike practice FGM. This practice is not known in many Muslim countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq to name but a few. In Kenya there are many non-Muslim communities practicing it while many other Muslim communities who do not practice FGM. Hence this means this practice has no known Islamic origin (Abdi, 2007) Both Muslims and non-Muslims a like practice FGM. This practice is not known in many Muslim countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq to name but a few (Abdi, 2007).

In Kenya, the practice of female mutilation is considered dangerous and the country has imposed laws to prevent the practice from continuation. Evidence from the recently launched Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2008-2009 indicates that the overall prevalence of FGM has been decreasing over the last decade (Antia & Stinson, 2009). In

2008/9, 27% of women had undergone FGM, a decline from 32% in 2003 and 38% in 2008. Older women are more likely to have undergone FGM than younger women, further indicating the prevalence is decreasing. However, the reverence has remained highest among the Somali (97 percentages), Kisii (96%), Kuria (96%)) and the Maasai (93%)), relatively low among the Kikuyu, Kamba and Turkana, and rarely practiced among the Luo and Luhya (less than 1%). The practice of FGM occurs mainly at the teenage and adolescent years; however it is also practiced at later ages. Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (2009) results show broad range of age at circumcision. One-third of circumcised women say they were 14-18 years old at the time of the operation, 19 percent were 12-13 years old, and 15 percent were 10-11 years old. Twelve percent of women were circumcised at 8-9 years of age, and an equal proportion was circumcised at 3-7 years of age. Only 2 percent of women were circumcised before 3 years of age.

Shell-Duncan and Hernlund (2000) note efforts to abandon the practice in Africa can be traced back to the beginning of the twentieth century when missionaries and colonial authorities emphasized the alleged adverse health effects and framed the practice as

“uncivilized, barbaric, and unacceptable in the eye s of Christianity (Yoder, P. et al 2004). In

response, FGM became an instrument of war to the ethnic independence movement among the Kikuyu reacting against what they perceived as cultural imperialistic attacks by Europeans. Other ethnic groups like Meru, Kisii, Kuria & Kalenjin affected by the British prohibition of the procedure drummed help to strengthen Mau Mau movement against British colonial rule in the 1950s (FIDA Kenya, 2009)

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The issue about female genital cuttings has been an issue that needs intervention that is more urgent, the practice have caused several argument and disputation (Bosch, 2011). The following are the problems in question, which this study exposes. Although a female genital cutting has been a pervasive practice for thousands of years, recently there has been increasingly vehement opposition, even from members of the practicing cultures (Antia & Stinson, 2009). Revulsion from a physical perspective, the belief that the practice is degrading to women, and the knowledge that the practice often is carried out unnecessarily as a result of inaccurate and destroying beliefs and myths surrounding the operation, have all contributed to this opposition. The dominant and most widely based objection to the practice is the concern over the pain and physical damage, even death, that female genital cutting has caused so many women and children (Gruenbaum, 2006).

As a result of the above reasons, female genital cutting does not justify its horrible practice.

The local leaders together with other stakeholders should enforce women and girls’ rights through participatory/advocacy for education-in-culture and culture-in- education. Despite the fact that female genital cuttings are an illegal and unlawful practice in some part of the world, this practice is still very much common mostly in less developed country (Antia & Stinson, 2009). This gender based practice is terribly performed by a traditional practitioner or (quack) untrained person, usually an old woman in the particular family set up or in the community who use a several types of tools, such as a scalpel, piece of glass, to perform the practice harshly in an unhealthy, unsterile conditions which usually lead to hemorrhage and mostly the victim used to bleed to death.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to identify factors influencing the practice of female genital mutilation among women in Benin City in Benin City.

1.4 Research Objectives

  1. To establish the influence of traditional beliefs on the practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Benin City.
  2. To assess the influence of literacy levels on the practices of FGM in Benin City.
  3. To establish the influence of community sensitization on the practice of FGM in

Benin City.

  1. To determine the influence of religion on the practice of FGM in Benin City.

1.5 Research Questions

  1. What is the influence of traditional beliefs on the practices of Female Genital

Mutilation (FGM) in Benin City?

  1. What is the influence of illiteracy levels on the practices of FGM in Benin City?
  2. What is the influence of community sensitization on the practice of FGM in Benin City?
  3. What is the influence of religious factors on the practice of FGM in Benin City?

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study is significant and sociologically relevant because it provided insights into the causes and persistence of FGM practice and its effects on the girl child, other serious long term health effects are also common. These include urinary and reproductive tract infections, caused by obstructed flow of urine and menstrual blood, various forms of caring and infertility. Epidermal inclusion cysts may form and expand, particularly in procedures affecting the clitoris. These cysts can grow over time and can become infected, requiring medical attention such as drainage. Moreover FGC would expose women to greater risk of HIV. Clearly, stopping FGC reduced the above health problems. The study is an attempt to reveal the major responsible factors and their negative contribution to female genital mutilation and health problem of women so that governmental and non – governmental organizations could take intervention measures and set appropriate plans to tackle the existing female genital circumcision by identifying and giving priority to the areas where this kind of practice is performed.

 

1.7 Limitations of the Study

Time limitations was great constraints to the researcher since the study entails physical travelling over distances of the cumbersome and public means of transport. The entire  is quite vast and may not be covered totally.

The study was constrained by insufficient finances since it entailed assistance of research assistants at the data collection point.

Climate change was a limitation of the study that is heavy rains may interruption data collection. This was encountered by use a four by four vehicle.

The researcher encountered language barrier in collecting data in Benin City where respondent may not understand English. The researcher used an interpreter to curb the challenge

Female circumcision is a deeply embedded cultural tradition in Benin City that is handed down from one generation to another. Like all matters regarding human sexuality and reproduction, FGM is regarded as a taboo that should not be mentioned in public, leave alone discussed with strangers. The women who are looked down upon by their counterparts may not open up and may be seen as divulging the communities’ secret.

Those who support FGM may give biased information. Fourthly, FGM is currently being practiced in secrecy after several presidential decrees and enactment of the Child’s bill, which criminalized it. The interviewees might withdraw from participation openly for fear of intimidation.

1.8 Delimitation of the Study

The study was confined to Benin City in Benin City to investigate female genital mutilation among women of Benin City. This offered the opportunity for a rich source of data. The researcher has significant knowledge of the Benin City.

1.9 Basic Assumptions of the Study

The study assumed that all the respondents were honest and truthful when answering the questions. It is also assumed that the respondents was objective and competent in answering questions.

1.10     Definition of Significant Terms Used in the Study

Community Sensitization:  is a non-associative learning process in which repeated

administrations of a stimulus results in the progressive amplification of a response.

Cultural factors:                   are the established beliefs, values, traditions, laws and languages

of a nation or society. These factors also include the artistic values, marriage customs and religious beliefs that are

indigenous to a particular region.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), for purposes of this study, the terms female genital

mutilation is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.

Gender:                                 It refers to cultural definition of men, women, boys or girls used

to categorize them into different areas of responsibilities, opportunities and roles within society. Gender refers to femininity and masculinity which are socio-cultural

constructions.

Illiteracy level: lack of ability (especially knowledge or education) to do something

Religion: is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.
Stigmatization:  The process by which people are viewed negatively and are often

discriminated against by others.

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION AWARENESS LEVEL AMONGST YOUNG PEOPLE IN BENIN CITY

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