Mental Health And Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) most often affects a woman’s mental health long after the procedure has taken place, leaving scars and taking the pain into her adult life. Women with FGM/C often show signs of psychological trauma: anxiety, somatization, depression, post-traumatic stress and other mood disorders. Some of the immediate consequences of FGM include severe pain and bleeding, shock, difficulty in passing urine, infections, injury to nearby genital tissue and sometimes death.

Speaking on mental health and female genital mutilation on Let’s Talk FGM, Alawode Yussuff, a clinical psychologist defined mental health as the state of emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being in which an individual is able to rely on his ability to cope, be productive and to be able to contribute meaningfully to the society.

“Imagine someone coming to you with razor or sharp object that they want to do something for you, as there’s this slang they use, ‘we want to bring you into womanhood’, which womanhood? The trauma faced at that stage is a whole lot that stays with the individual for the rest of their lives. Its something that remembering it or having to do anything with your husband or fiance that brings back the memory causes trauma which result in posttraumatic stress disorder. Going further as it’s not something other people understand hence you see it as an abnormal thing that happened to you.

“The act of fgm can cause withdrawal and dissociation from a person as a result of the stigma associated with the practice,” Yussuff said.

FGM may have lasting effects on women and girls who undergo it. The psychological stress of the procedure may trigger behavioral disturbances in children, closely linked to loss of trust and confidence in caregivers. In the longer term, women may suffer feelings of anxiety and depression.

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