Scarification is the art of sketching, branding, etching or superficially cutting designs, pictures or words into the skin (Marked, 2021). Acts of scarification are manifest as tribal markings, mutilation, and protective cuttings. The origins of scarification remain a mystery and in Africa, art sculptures with markings began to appear around 1500 (Marked, 2021). In Nigeria, scarification was originally used for identification, religion, beautification and medication (Guardian, 2018, Marked, 2021). Scarification, however, is not as popular as it once was and poses several dangers to its victims. Scarification instruments are not often sterilised properly and could cause the contraction of diseases such as hepatitis B, tetanus and HIV (Guardian, 2018). Scarification at birth could cause psychological trauma and social stigma later during adulthood. This has led to the prohibition of scarification in Nigeria (Guardian, 2020).
Whilst scarification has lost its appeal in Nigeria, it is fast becoming a trend in the western world (Huffington Post, 2015, Mail Online, 2017). In the United Kingdom, people seek out scarification for identity, beauty or to mark important life events (Mail Online, 2017). These individuals, however, choose to be marked and are not marked from birth. In the U.K., as opposed to banning scarification, the NHS recommends taking care to avoid infection by finding a reputable, licensed practitioner who uses sterile instruments, then following their aftercare advice.
This poses the question, ‘As opposed to a ban, should Nigeria focus its efforts on alleviating the negatives associated with scarification?’ Where Nigerian citizens seek out scarification for beauty and identification, should they have a choice?
*This is a poll for research purposes. The contents of our polls do not reflect our learnings or position on any matter.