As one of his last acts, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has made history and has banned female genital mutilation.
The new law prohibits female circumcision or genital mutilation, forceful ejection from home, and harmful widowhood practices.
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
UNICEF video on female genital mutilation:
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, hemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region, and injury to nearby genital tissue.
Long-term consequences can include:
- Recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections;
- An increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths;
- The need for later surgeries. For example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening (type 3 above) needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth. Sometimes it is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing both immediate and long-term risks.
In 2012, the United Nations (U.N.) banned FGM worldwide. Even though the practice has been outlawed in a number of Nigerian states, this is the first time that the entire country has committed to stopping FGM.
UNICEF released a report in 2013 stating that 19.9 million girls and women ages 15 to 49 have undergone genital mutilation in Nigeria.
Inquisitr reported: “Women’s advocate groups rejoiced with the good news. However, they are also concerned that the banning of genital mutilation will not entirely eradicate the problem. The practice of genital mutilation has been around for more than a thousand years, and the act is deeply rooted in many cultures.”
I hope that with this ban and some re-education, it will lessen FGM/C and it will eventually stop.