Nigeria Outlaws Female Genital Mutilation

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a measure this week that criminalizes female genital mutilation, in one of his last official acts before yielding the country’s top office to Muhammadu Buhari, the International Business Times (external - login to view) reports.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill (external - login to view) this week that criminalizes female genital mutilation or cutting, a practice that a staggering 19.9 million Nigerian women are thought to have undergone. The landmark legislation is being hailed as an important step for Africa’s most populous country but also one that experts hope will have a potential ripple effect on the 26 other African nations that have significant populations of women who undergo the practice.

Nigeria’s decision to outlaw female genital mutilation (FGM) sends “a powerful signal not only within Nigeria but across Africa,” according to J. Peter Pham, the director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. “Nigeria, just because of the sheer size of its population, has one of the highest absolute number of cases of FGM in the world,” he said, adding that the bill now effectively criminalizes a significant percentage of FGM on the African continent. “One cannot overestimate the impact of any decision by Nigeria [on the continent].”

More than 125 million girls and women around the world are estimated to have undergone some form of FGM, with the majority concentrated in 29 countries, all but two in Africa, according to a 2013 study (external - login to view) by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). FGM, also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision, is a procedure in which all or most of the external female genitalia is either removed or otherwise surgically altered for nonmedical reasons. The procedure has no documented health benefits and is considered a violation (external - login to view) of the human rights of girls and women by international bodies like the World Health Organization.

Despite international efforts to rout the practice, FGM has prevalence rates of as high as over 95 percent in countries like Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Egypt. In Nigeria, which has a population of 175 million, the national prevalence is estimated at around 27 percent, with considerable variation across regions (external - login to view), the highest of which is represented in the southern portion of the country. The continued prevalence of the procedure is a result of deeply ingrained cultural and social factors. This has posed a challenge both for international health and rights advocates as well as national and local players who have sought to end FGM.

The challenge of shifting social norms has been underscored in the case of other African countries like Egypt, where the prevalence of FGM was recently revealed (external - login to view) to be at roughly 92 percent among married women despite the practice being outlawed in 2008. More than half of women surveyed by the government said they continued to be in favor of FGM because they viewed it as being in accordance with their cultural and religious traditions.


Nigeria Bans Female Genital Mutilation: African Powerhouse Sends ‘Powerful Signal’ About FGM With New Bill (external - login to view)

Better late than never. Hopefully they can actually enforce it.
Gambia bans female genital mutilation

The Gambia (external - login to view) has announced it will ban female genital mutilation (FGM) after the Guardian launched a global campaign to end the practice.

The president, Yahya Jammeh, said last night that the controversial surgical intervention would be outlawed. He said the ban would come into effect immediately, though it was not clear when the government would draft legislation to enforce it.

FGM involves cutting female genitalia – often when girls are young – to remove their labia and clitoris, which often leads to lifelong health complications, including bleeding, infections, ******l pain and infertility. More than 130 million women worldwide are subjected to the procedure in Africa (external - login to view) and the Middle East.

The practice is widespread in many African countries, including the Gambia, where 76% of females (external - login to view) have been subjected to it. The age at which FGM takes place in the Gambia is not recorded, but it is reported that the trend of practicing FGM on infant girls is increasing (external - login to view). By the age of 14, 56% of female children in the country have had the procedure.

Jaha Dukureh, an anti-FGM activist whose campaign to end the practice in the country has been supported by the Guardian, spent the past week meeting cabinet ministers in the Gambia and sent them articles from the newspaper to inform them about the issue.

“I’m really amazed that the president did this. I didn’t expect this in a million years. I’m just really proud of my country and I’m really, really happy,” she told the Guardian. “I think the president cared about the issue, it was just something that was never brought to his attention.

“The amazing thing is it’s election season. This could cost the president the election. He put women and girls first, this could negatively affect him, but this shows he cares more about women than losing people’s votes,” said Dukureh.

Dukureh will return to the Gambia on Tuesday to thank Jammeh for the ban and to help with drafting the legislation that will enforce it.

Senior Muslim clerics in the Gambia have previously denied the existence of FGM in the Gambia saying instead that was is practiced is “female circumcision”. In 2014, state house imam, Alhaji Abdoulie Fatty told Kibaaro News (external - login to view), “I have never heard of anyone who died as a result of female genital mutilation (FGM)... If you know what FGM means, you know that we do not practice that here. We do not mutilate our children.”

This year FGM was banned in Nigeria, which joined 18 other African countries that have outlawed the practice, including Central African Republic, Egypt and South Africa.

Somalia, which has the highest prevalence of FGM in the world, has indicated it would like to end the practice, with a spokeswoman for the ministry for women’s affairs saying it was “committed to make this happen” despite significant resistance in the country.

Currently, 98% of girls aged between four and 11 are subjected to FGM in Somalia.

The Gambia bans female genital mutilation | Society | The Guardian (external - login to view)
It is about time.
Aw! Now what the heck is there to do on Saturday night in Gambia?
Retarded bastids.
Curious Cdn
Hey! And they can show breasts in Alberta now, too! Are these theocracies REALLY becoming secular or is it just "blip"?
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