Female Genital Mutilation and a Conversation

Adaobi Osakwe
5 min readFeb 6, 2020

It has been years but I always go back to that conversation I had with a roommate. The day I realized I didn’t want to have anything to do with her.


It was the day I realized that I think everybody should have an opinion but some people should only share theirs with themselves, in their head, repeatedly, in a manner that proves to everyone just how raving mad they are.

We woke up that morning to what was supposed to be a ‘normal’ conversation about Female Genital Mutilation. I didn’t go to a boarding school and I have been shielded from so much in my life by my parents. I was naive and curious and the only real exposure I had to the topic was from things I read in books and social studies class.

She told me a story about a girlfriend from back in her secondary school days, how it seemed most of this girl’s insides were hanging out while they all took their bath in the common bathroom as was the case in some boarding schools.


She told me everybody avoided this girl at school because having your insides hang out looked disgusting. She was trying to illustrate the fact that the person that performed the girl’s FGM, did a bad job and I thought she agreed that the practice was bad and should be discontinued — I told you I was naive!

She then proceeded to tell me about this little child that she knows — A niece or a friend’s daughter, I am not sure which. But she suggested that this little girl of three would ‘spoil fast’ because she always seemed to be dry humping a chair or a pillow and that FGM was necessary in her case.

I have never felt revulsion as bad as I did at that moment. I was speechless for a few minutes. I tried without much luck to explain to her that nobody has the right to decide for a 3-year-old just how much sex she should have in her future or to take away her right to enjoy it. I didn’t have all the facts and I keep thinking that maybe if I did, I could have changed her mind.


I stood up a few minutes after I realized I was not going to get through to this person and I went to have my bath, much like Pontius Pilate washing his hands off Jesus’s crucifixion.

My roommate was a graduate and expected to be at least above-average intelligence, I hope that she sees things differently now and if she doesn’t, some facts:


Female Genital Mutilation is the partial or complete removal of the female genitalia for cultural or non-medical reasons and depending on the type of the FGM, the sterility of the equipment used and the expertise of the circumciser, the severity of the complication compounds.

The procedure is performed with scissors, razor blades, broken glass and tin can lid and is performed without anaesthetics.

There are four types to this abomination.
Type 1 — Clitoridectomy involves partial or total removal of the clitoris or prepuce

Type 2 — Excision involves partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora

Type 3 — Infibulation involves the narrowing of the vaginal orifice with a covering seal formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and or the labia majora. This may cause complete vaginal obstruction resulting in the accumulation of menstrual flow in the vagina and uterus.

This is regarded as the most severe form of FGM and most infibulated women have to be ‘cut open’ twice. Once on the first night of marriage and again during childbirth as the vagina is usually too small for a baby to pass through.

Type 4 — Includes any and every non-medical purpose such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping or cauterization.

The practice is unfair, a blatant abuse and disregard of the human right and body and should be completely eradicated from the face of the earth.

The Short term complications include —


Severe pain


Urinary problems ranging from an inability to control the passing of urine




Long term complications include —

Complications during childbirth

Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse)

Sexual dysfunction

Increased risk of HIV transmission because sexual intercourse results in laceration of tissues

Psychological effects,

Formation of cysts and abscesses

Keloid scar formation especially on women who have their two legs tied far apart for days after the process to allow them to “heal”.

The answers to the reason for this practice on a scale of ‘ridiculous’ to ‘it has always been that way’ includes the fact that in some communities, this abomination is regarded as a prerequisite for marriage. Some people believe it ensures virginity before marriage and fidelity afterwards as well as a means to enhance sexual pleasure for the male.


Some people believe that an uncut clitoris results in the clitoris’s continued growth into the size of a penis while some do it because the female genitalia is regarded as ugly and dirty.


Some self-righteous people, while frowning hard at some of the reasons others indulge in it, insist that the practice is necessary for the woman with the large clitoris as having this causes an insatiable appetite for sex in such women when the clitoris rubs against the woman’s clothes — ‘Who would have thunk?’

Some communities practise FGM because they believe it enhances fertility although this has been proven to be untrue and quite the opposite. There are no health benefits to FGM!

A few years ago, I couldn’t change someone’s mind because I didn’t have all the facts. Today, I hope you read and you understand and you preach it to everybody and I hope you find out what your roommate thinks and I hope you hit them with all the hard facts until nobody wants to be a part of that practice.