NIGERIA: Female circumcision in Igboland

THE issue of female circumcision ranks high as one of the many cases of domestic violence in Igboland. Otherwise known as female genital mutilation, female circumcision is seen as a sure cure for sexual promiscuity among women. However, ancient folklore reveals how female genital mutilation helps to ward off certain kinds of diseases in women in the olden times.

Though considered as barbaric, the hygienic potentials of female circumcision commend it to successive generations of Igbo families. The superstitious impetus of female circumcision could not be lost on anyone who desires a deep knowledge of the practice in Igboland. It is believed that women who are not circumcised make love to spirits in their sleep who, in turn, cause unhealthy appetite for sexual intercourse. It is also said that such women give birth to Ogbanje (Abiku). With such unwholesome tales, out of fear and possible stigmatization, most mothers make sure that they circumcised their daughters.

Circumcision is done to arrest the interest and arousal for sex by the womenfolk and to avoid giving birth to children who would live for short periods of time, die and come back to their mothers’ womb only to be born and continue the cycle, bringing grief and pain to the family.

In some instances, women who give birth to such children are regarded as having spiritual husbands and are thus, taken through a ritual bath. This ritual, which involves taking the woman to a fast flowing river, attracts general feeling of sadness against the mother for failing to circumcise her daughter during her childhood. Women who fail to circumcise their daughters are usually blamed for their negligence.

Female genital mutilation, called clitoridectomy in modern medicine, involves the yanking off of the clitoris, the most sensitive part of the female orifice. In Igboland, the instrument of the art inspires much awe with its crudity and savage look. A hard metal carving knife known as “aguba” is usually used in cutting the clitoris, whereupon herbal concoctions are used to stop blood flow and ameliorate the excruciating pains. As the baby cries, the mother takes pleasure in the feeling that, at least, she has a normal woman made ready for her husband’s ecstasy. To further speed up the healing process, palm oil is applied to the wound intermittently using a feather to spread the oil along the cut edges of the former position occupied by the clitoris.

According to ancient folklore, it is alleged that one of the benefits of female circumcision is that during child birth the woman does not go through birth pangs.

Most of the women who undergo female circumcision are said to have easy passage during delivery. They are also adjudged to be hardworking and productive in the farms.
However, a lot of criticisms have been directed at female genital mutilation, especially given the prevalence of certain diseases and because of the influence of modern education. Above all, female circumcision inhibits the sexuality of women, thereby leading to incessant marital squabbles and even divorce.

Women who are circumcised are known to find it hard to experience orgasm during sexual intercourse, a situation that leads to marital disharmony and frustration. The practice has been seen as a source of a lot of health hazards.

SOURCE: Nigerian Tribune
Author: Clement Oko Nnachi
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