The Epidemiology of Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria - A Twelve Year Review

UU Epundu, AL Ilika, CC Ibeh, AS Nwabueze, OF Emelumadu, CC Nnebue


Background: About 140 million women worldwide have suffered genital mutilation. The practice is common in several African countries including Nigeria. This paper reviews the prevalence, distribution, causes, consequences and strategies for elimination and proffers solutions to aid elimination of this practice.

Methods: Relevant literature pertaining to female genital mutilation in Nigeria were obtained from journals, textbooks, selected documents and internet search of databases using Pubmed, Google scholar and African Journals Online. Cross referencing was used to identify additional articles. The study period was from 2004 to 2016.

Results: Female genital mutilation is a common practice in several parts of the country, especially the Southern geopolitical zones. Nationally representative surveys reported a gradual decline in the prevalence. The practice has several negative health and economic consequences. Culture and tradition are important factors fuelling its persistence.

Conclusion: Female genital mutilation is a crime against womanhood, posing a great health and financial burden to individuals, families and the society. Although its prevalence is on the decline in many parts of Nigeria, more sustained and coordinated efforts of stakeholders at all levels are needed to fast-track the elimination of this practice in Nigeria.

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