More Good News: Female Genital Mutilation Banned in Nigeria

by Alexa Salvato

It’s a victory for women everywhere that female genital mutilation has been outlawed in Nigeria. FGM is defined by the World Heath Organization as “procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” It is a cultural practice in some regions, primarily within regions of countries in the Middle East and Africa, and it doesn’t have any health benefits. More than 100 million girls have experienced FGM, which often happens below the age of 15. FGM can have major health consequences, including “severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.” It is estimated that one-third of girls who undergo FGM will die from the procedure.

FGM is roundly considered a human rights violation, specifically against women and girls. Stella Mukasa, the director of Gender, Violence, and Rights at the International Center for Research on Women, wrote an article for The Guardian explaining the struggle of defending the rights of women and girls yet also upholding tradition. “It is crucial that we scale up efforts to change traditional cultural views that underpin violence against women,” she said.

I still remember the first time I learned about FGM. I was reading one of my first issues of New Moon Girls magazine, a huge encouragement to my identity as a feminist. The article was written in a passionate way that wasn’t child-friendly, but explained simply that FGM was happening to girls just like 12-year-old me, and I couldn’t even believe something like it could still happen today. Injustice against women in Nigeria is injustice against women everywhere, and I’m so glad that Nigeria’s new Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act is working to defend women against many kinds of violence to which they are particularly vulnerable. 

Check out the #VAPPBill hashtag on Twitter to see more reactions to this great news. 

Images via The Wellbeing Foundation & SterikHardsson


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