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EXCLUSIVE: FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION: Advocates urges awareness to break cycle of intergenerational trauma

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Today marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, an occasion dedicated to raising awareness about the harmful practice of altering or injuring female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

This year’s theme, ‘Her Voice,’ underscores the importance of survivors’ narratives as catalysts for change, emphasizing that every choice made in reclaiming their lives contributes to the global movement to eradicate this harmful practice.

Despite ongoing efforts, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) remains deeply ingrained in Nigerian culture, presenting significant challenges to eradication, particularly in Oyo State. Legal measures and awareness campaigns have been insufficient to counteract the prevalence of FGM, perpetuated by cultural beliefs, societal pressures, and inadequate enforcement mechanisms.

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Data from the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) reveals Nigeria’s alarming rates of FGM, with over 20 million women and girls estimated to have undergone the procedure, and recent studies indicating a staggering 76% prevalence among women aged 15-49 in Oyo State alone.

In shedding light on the lived experiences of survivors, Melody Ishola, a courageous survivor from Oyo State, shared her story, highlighting the physical and emotional trauma endured due to FGM.


Additionally, the Osun State Coordinator of the Inter-African Committee on the Eradication of Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting Women and Children,Mrs. Aduke Obelawo, emphasized the imperative of community-wide engagement, focusing on human rights, gender equality, sexual education, and support for affected women and girls.


Community engagement emerges as a critical strategy in reshaping cultural norms and attitudes towards FGM. Grassroots initiatives, involving religious and traditional leaders, women’s groups, and youth advocates, play a pivotal role in challenging harmful beliefs and promoting alternative rites of passage that celebrate womanhood without harm.

Addressing FGM in Oyo State and Nigeria necessitates a comprehensive approach, encompassing legal enforcement, awareness campaigns, and sustained community involvement. By amplifying survivors’ voices and heeding the advocacy of individuals like Mrs Obelawo, progress can be made towards ending FGM and safeguarding the rights and dignity of all women and girls.

Written by Ruth Semilore

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