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Soc Sci Med. 1985;21(5):581-8.

Circumcision: its nature and practice among some ethnic groups in southern Nigeria.


A questionnaire survey carried out in five rural communities in mid-southern Nigeria documents the degree and range of male and female circumcision practices among Bini, Esan, Etsako, Ijaw and Ukwuani ethnic groups. Two hundred and eighty adults (154 males and 126 females) reported on themselves and their 1417 children (757 sons and 660 daughters). Circumcision of both sexes remains widely practised, though the timing of the event and extent of surgery show wide variations among, and sometimes, within ethnic groups. The commonest reason for the practice is a strong desire to continue ethnic traditions. Altered sexual urge for women, increased sexual performance for men, protection of baby's health, as well as general reproductive and aesthetic consideration are also important reasons. Traditional surgeons usually perform the operation and few complications were reported to be associated with the procedure in either sex. Female circumcision in this area is not as destructive or mutilating as in some Arabic and East African cultures. Because of the relatively low rate of complications a major campaign against circumcision in these areas does not at present seem warranted.

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