In a historic decision that marked the prevalence of reasoning over a traditional approach, the Nigerian senate declared ‘Female Genital Mutilation’ as a criminal offense. The bill was signed by the former president Goodluck Jonathan on May 5. This was Jonathan’s last action in office before his successor Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in, and has received a lot of praise from the people.
‘Female Genital Mutilation’ is an act of removing external female genitalia either partially or totally. This practice, which prevails on account of cultural beliefs and traditions, has also been described as causing injuries in absence of medical facilities.
The process, often carried out without any medical attention in rural areas can prove fatal. Reports by UNICEF suggest that across Northern and Western Africa, around 130 million girls have experienced genital mutilation. But, thanks to cultural activism backed by global support, the numbers affected by this practice have come down considerably in the last 30 years.
The director of gender, violence and rights at the international centre for research on women echoes many experts when she suggests that a concentrated effort to change cultural and traditional views from the core, by way of education and social awareness campaigns, will be crucial in bringing this practice to an end.
The practice is prevalent in many African nations and also few Arab countries. The reasons for this practice are cited by practitioners as social obligations or religious requirement. Though many religious scholars have stated that such a practice has no mention in scriptures and is not required, people in the region still carry out this inhuman activity on varying degrees.