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Nigeria: Existence among the Yoruba of a ritual done to women to restore the virginity they would have lost prior to marriage; if so, a description and the state protection available to those who refuse to perform this ritual (February 2004)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 27 February 2004
Citation / Document Symbol NGA42319.E
Reference 1
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Nigeria: Existence among the Yoruba of a ritual done to women to restore the virginity they would have lost prior to marriage; if so, a description and the state protection available to those who refuse to perform this ritual (February 2004) , 27 February 2004, NGA42319.E , available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/41501c3e7.html [accessed 22 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Information on the existence among the Yoruba people of a ritual done to women to restore the virginity they would have lost prior to marriage, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However the following excerpts from two studies on sexual networking in Nigeria, may be of interest.

Published in 1995, a study entitled Sexual Networking Among Youth in Southwestern Nigeria stated that:

Premarital sexual experimentation was culturally prohibited in most Nigerian societies although the sanctions had always been less for the males than the females. Adults supervised the sexual lives of their young ones until they married. The result of the cultural sanctions and codes against premarital sex was that the sexual urge of the young was not given opportunity for expression.

Today, the cultural regulations regarding premarital sex are no longer adhered to; the ideal virginal marriage or virginity at marriage no longer exists. Renne (1993) has observed that not only is virginity at marriage no longer perceived as socially desirable in southwestern Nigeria but it is now perceived as 'socially backward', antisocial, or even associated with infertility-related diseases such as gonorrhoea and 'epilepsy' (Owuamanam, Donatus O. 1995).

Describing the study sampling, the author noted that about 66 per cent of the 593 subjects, were Yoruba-speaking (ibid.).

Referring to the results of a study entitled Sexual Networking Among Marked Women in Benin City, Bendel State, Nigeria, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of Benin, noted the following:

Female Chastity was traditionally promoted because it attracted higher brideprice or bridewealth, as well as guaranteeing the paternity of the children. The importance placed on female premarital chastity necessitated in-depth probing on whether a woman should be a virgin at marriage, whether the respondents were virgins at marriage, and whether they would like their daughters to be virgins at marriage. The data indicate that there has been a move away from the traditional beliefs and sanctions on maintaining a girl's virginity until marriage (Omorodio Francisca Isi 1993).

Describing the state where the survey was chosen, the author recalled that Bendel state is a mixture of cultures, between large Yoruba and Igbo populations to the west and east respectively (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Benin. Omorodion, Francisca Isi. 1993. Sexual Networking Among Marked Women in Benin City, Bendel State, Nigeria. Published in Health Transition Review Supplement to Vol. 3. [Accessed 24 Feb. 2004]

Faculty of Education, Ondo State University. Owuamanam. Donatus O. 1995. Sexual Networking Among Youth in Southwestern Nigeria. Published in Health Transition Review Supplement to Vol. 5. [Accessed 23 Feb. 204]

Additional Sources Consulted

The Coordinator of the Lagos-based Project Alert, a non-government organization set up to provide information on all forms of violence against women, and render support service to females victims of violence, did not respond within time constraints.

Dialog

IRB Databases.

Resource Centre country file. Nigeria

West Africa

Websites, including:

AllAfrica

BBC Africa

Egbe Omo Yoruba. National Association Descendent in North America

Nigeria Daily

New Nigeria

ReliefWeb

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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