Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences


Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences Vol. 1(11), pp. 510-515 December 2010         
Copyright © 2010 International Research Journals



A review of determinants of female genital mutilation in Nigeria

*Kolawole A.O.D, Anke van de Kwaak

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, ABUTH, Zaria.

Formerly, Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Amsterdam, Netherlands.

*Corresponding author Email:

Received 03 November, 2010; Accepted 29 November, 2010



Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or genital cutting, genital surgeries, excision or female circumcision are synonyms for procedures involving partial or total removal of parts or all of the female genital organs for cultural or non-medical purposes. It is often done before adulthood without consent and awareness of possible complications, thus may be a form of violence against women. FGM affects more than 100 million women with about 3 million annual cases globally. In Nigeria, it is widespread among different tribes and religious groups. It is commoner among the poorly educated, low socio-economic and low social-status groups. Although, UNICEF (2005) gave Nigerian national prevalence of 19%, others gave prevalence ranging from 1.5%-61%. It is a preventable public health issue with significant reproductive consequences. This paper reviewed books and journal articles retrieved using the catalogues of the KIT and Vrije University libraries. Internet search was done using search engines and data was retrieved from the WHO, Social Science and Medicine websites and Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS). The determinants of FGM were reviewed using the Lalonde (1974) model which include environment (socio-cultural, economic, and physical), health and hygiene, biologic and lifestyle determinants, other determinants like gender, globalization, religion and politics were used as framework to study factors which contribute to the continuation of FGM. The main determinants in Nigeria were environment, gender and healthcare. FGM occur in all geo-political zones in Nigeria. The trend to ‘medicalise’ FGM is worrisome and willingness of some mothers including health workers to perpetuate it shows the complexity of the determinants. Gender inequity and female subjugation as root causes of FGM should be tackled using advocacy, female education and economic empowerment.


Keywords: Female, genital mutilation, genital cutting, circumcision, clitoridectomy, infibulations, Nigeria.

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