History Has Been Made! Female Genital Mutilation Banned In Nigeria!

By on Jun 13, 2015

In a move welcomed as a step in the right direction by international advocates, outgoing Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has signed a bill officially banning the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015, which was passed by the Nigerian Senate earlier in May, also will prevent men from leaving their families without proving financial support, according to Reuters.

Nigerian women’s rights and public health groups have long campaigned against FGM, which removes parts or all of a girl’s genitalia, often at a very young age and without the girl’s consultation or consent, saying that it violates human rights. The procedure has also led to severe health problems.



According to UNICEF:

“More than 130 million girls and women have experienced FGM/C in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is most common.”

With the help of community activism, campaigns and numbers of organizational efforts to end this practice, UNICEF reported that teenage girls were now one-third less likely to undergo FGM/C today than 30 years ago.

Now with the new law criminalizing this procedure, the hope is the ban will fully eliminate this practice and be strongly enforced to combat any existing societal pressures.

The World Health Organization cites immediate harmful effects of FCM/C that include hemorrhage (bleeding), bacterial infection, open sores, and long-term consequences that include infertility, childbirth complications and recurring bladder infections.

In another UNICEF report, communities who practice FGM often do so to reduce sexual desire in women and to initiate girls to womanhood, among other purposes.


According to “The Guardian‘s” analysis of 2014 UN data, a quarter of the women in Nigeria have undergone FGM.

Stella Mukasa, director of Gender, Violence and Rights at the International Center for Research on Women, explains the complexity of the implementation of the new law banning FGM/C.

“It is crucial that we scale up efforts to change traditional cultural views that underpin violence against women,” she wrote in an article for “The Guardian.” “Only then will this harmful practice be eliminated.”

So far women’s advocates have generally expressed optimism in the wake of Jonathan’s 11th hour action, but they caution that legislation alone will not be enough to eradicate a practice so deeply-rooted in familial and ethnic customs. Real change must be cultural, not merely political.

“We welcome this ban as we welcome any ban on FGM, in any country,” Tarah Demant, senior director for Amnesty International USA’s identity and discrimination unit, tells Quartz. “But it’s unclear whether other countries will do the same.”

Prisca Korein, a 62-year-old traditional surgeon, holds razor blades before carrying out female genital mutilation on teenage girls from the Sebei tribe in Bukwa district, about 357 kms (214 miles) northeast of Kampala, December 15, 2008. The ceremony was to initiate the teenagers into womanhood according to Sebei traditional rites. REUTERS/James Akena (UGANDA) - RTR22M64

Prisca Korein, a 62-year-old traditional surgeon, holds razor blades before carrying out female genital mutilation on teenage girls from the Sebei tribe in Bukwa district, about 357 kms (214 miles) northeast of Kampala, December 15, 2008. The ceremony was to initiate the teenagers into womanhood according to Sebei traditional rites. REUTERS/James Akena (UGANDA) – RTR22M64






  • Janice Hutchinson

    Well, I am one who often states that each country should be allowed to workout their own problems, esspecially when the problems are cultrual based. I stand today to say that I compliment those who got involved with the changing of this practice.

    • Gort1

      There’s nothing cultural about mutilation. .scarring and sometimes killing girls!

      • Matthew Rohr

        There is a cultural aspect. Ignoring that aspect of it just makes it harder to address and harder to change.

        We don’t like that aspect of their culture, but we have to acknowledge it as the context within which these acts occur. By doing so, we equip ourselves to cut the ties between these despicable practices and positive traditions that define their sense of community. If we do that, we can aggressively go after the practices without seeming like we’re simply trying to destroy the community. We can show that the practices actually harm the community. And then, we will have raised within *them* the motivation to want the practice stopped. We will have the elders preaching the cause for us, because we approached this issue in such a way as to bring about lasting, real change.

        • Gort1

          No there isn’t. Calling mutilation cultural is ridiculous. It’s done for the sole purpose of making women unable to enjoy sex.

          • Derkins

            Making women unable to enjoy sex *is* culturally relevant in this context. that aspect of subjugation and the depreciation of women apparently goes hand in hand with cultural views. horrifyingly enough. no act happens in a context-less vacuum. the context makes it no less horrifying, though. I do feel that it’s a valid point to say that we aren’t going to be able to truly stop it, unless we recognize *why* it’s been happening, and address that at it’s root. Just making it illegal is a symptomatic, and not systemic, approach.

            as an analogy — it’s like taking a pill to get healthier, instead of addressing the lifestyle choices that lead up to one’s poor health. you’ll have to keep taking pills (jailing people) forever, to maintain any change. or. you could just address the context of the illness and actually not even need that pill, because the problem itself was healed. like, we don’t really need laws about FGM here, because it’s NOT part of our own culture. that’s where we want to get them at, too.

          • Ethan Patterson

            Your crusader-like attitude has made you blind to everything but your own condemnation of the practice. While I admire your zeal, you would do well to balance it with some wisdom. The fact that a particular ideal or practice is bad or morally wrong doesn’t make it any less cultural. By that logic, the Coliseum wasn’t part of Roman Culture.

            That’s one reason the concept of Human Rights exists, and why FGM is such a common case study in the field. It is, quite obviously, morally reprehensible to us Westerners for a myriad of reasons. Unfortunately, it is also a deeply engrained cultural practice, entangled with social values and customs as well as religious belief. Human rights gives us the ground to stand on and say, “Hey, you really shouldn’t do that. Stop doing that.” without having to walk through the minefield of religious morality or jump through the philosophical hoops of ethics, including the philosophy–ascribed to by many, to varying degrees–of cultural relativism. How successful the notion of Human Rights is and will be in actually preventing human suffering remains to be seen (as a concept it is less than a century old, if I’m not mistaken).

            Bottom line: you can’t pluck up a weed while ignoring the roots and expect it not to come back.

          • Gort1

            Sadly I have to agree with you. 🙁

  • Maureen Carroll

    It’s great that a law has been passed. Hope it will be inforced. This practice is so ingrained in their customs, how many years will it take for this heinous practice to disappear. Unfortunately this is still a man’s world. They enjoy sex with all their organs intact, but for some reasons do not want women the same priviledge. They consider women not as sex partners in the true sense but just as objects to use for their relief and baby machines.

    • daredevil

      fgm is actually insisted upon and carried out as tradition by many mothers and grand mothers, often the men in the families don’t have much of a say at least in more recent times, it is why it has gone on for so long, so its a bit of a misnomer to assume that it is the men or husbands who insist on perpetuating this tradition, because many husbands have complained that sex is not that even enjoyable when their women who have undergone fgm have endure so much pain during sex.

  • Tipper3


  • Silverlocust

    Clearly this is a move for the better and the sooner the practice is eradicated worldwide, the better. However, it’s a mistake to think our society can assume the moral high ground when we continue to mutilate boys’ genitals ad nauseum.

    • LaTonya Cox Richards

      How true this statement rings!

    • Zamion

      I couldn’t agree more.

    • Gort1

      Not the same thing at all. Boys don’t die from or get hideous infections from circumcisions. Nor are they unable to enjoy sex after circumcision. . Perspective people!

      • CyberPlague

        Unless you have a penis, and got circumcised at an older age to know the difference in sensation and lack of, YOU have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.

        • Gort1

          You are full of scheit. Circumsicion is not comparable to genital mutilation of girls in any way!

          • Derkins

            again, to play devi’s advocate — you can compare anything to anything. but i’m an artist, that’s how we’re taught to think. i still think that you’re right that the circumcision conversation doesn’t really belong on this thread, respectfully. and i see why people keep bringing it up, as an inevitable phenomenon of this article. what can i say. it’s the internet (ourselves included).

          • Gort1


          • Rick Martin

            Perhaps YOU should read up on the various types of female genital mutilation. Most of it is not the most severe kind. In fact, most of it compares directly with male circumcision.

          • Anni Hat

            http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/ apparently ‘type 1’ (cliteridectomy) is the most common, ‘type 2’ & ‘type 3’ also involve cliteridectomy.
            This does not compare with male circumcision.

          • Reason26

            Only about 25% of the clitoris is visible. A cliteridectomy removes the visible glans clitoris. As horrific as that is, it leaves the majority of the clitoris intact as the rest is internal. There are about 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris. The male foreskin holds the majority of the light touch responsive nerves of the penis. There are thousands of these nerve endings. The estimates range from 10,000 to 70,000. There are around 4,000 nerve endings in the glans penis. Even if the number of nerve endings in the foreskin and the nerve endings in the glans penis are equal that is still a far greater loss in number and percentage of nerve endings than cliteridectomy. I do not condone FGM(female genital mutilation) or MGM(male genital mutilation). I think they are both horrific practices that need to be eradicated. I do not say this to belittle FGM but to give some perspective on the subject of forced genital cutting as a whole. As most people understand that FGM is horrific but underestimate and many times overlook the damage of MGM.

          • Anni Hat

            Since I left my comment I have done some more reading around & concur with Reason26. I’m not sure about the exact numbers, but they seem to be generally correct.
            I no longer wish to specify gender when discussing genital mutilation.

        • Gort1

          And if you’re circumsized at a later age you still enjoy sex!

        • Gort1

          Like unless you have breasts you can’t understand breast cancer? You have zero perspective on the difference between Circumsicion and GENITAL MUTILATION. ..which makes it impossible for women to have orgasms and enjoy sex. Circumsicion does not have that effect. Get some education.

      • Silverlocust

        Whether they are surgically the same thing or not isn’t the point. They are, however, comparable in that they both (mostly) involve a totally unnecessary and often painful surgical procedure on a child’s genitals.
        This should be unacceptable whatever the perspective.

        • Gort1

          No they are not! Circumsicion is usually done at birth and in no way has the mutilating. .painful scarring and loss of Sexual sensation that genital mutilation does. Don’t be stupid!

          • CyberPlague

            Uh oh, we’ve got an ignorant Troll here people, just look away, nothing to see here. Don’t feed the monster, you’ll make it happy. Be careful, it advocates genital mutilation in all boys. Run away, it wants your foreskin !!!

          • CyberPlague

            Uh oh, we’ve got an ignorant Troll here folks, just look away, don’t feed the monster. Be careful, it advocates genital mutilation in all young boys. Run away, it wants your foreskin !!!

          • Bufu

            I didn’t see any advocating for male genital mutilation. What I see is someone saying circumcision does not compare to FGM. You can be against both practices while still saying they don’t compare to each other on many levels.
            Ad hominem attacks don’t make you correct. They just make you look ignorant.

          • Gort1

            CyberPlague is not capable of reasonable thought or comprehending the horror of female mutilation.

          • Gort1

            Speaking of trolls. Look in the mirror!

          • Silverlocust

            Let me repeat, it is not a comparison of male and female genital cutting at issue here but the fact that neither should be allowed except when medically required.
            The fact that most circumcisions in our society are conducted on babies as you point out, should be enough to condemn the practice outright.

          • Derkins

            just to play devil’s advocate, it does actually reduce some sensitivity. uncircumcised men enjoy more sensation. and, the reasons we even do it aren’t really valid anymore (cleanliness, beyond religion), as we now know about soap and showers, as a thing. it isn’t really an issue if you teach your kid how to wash properly.

          • Gort1

            Reduce and prevent are too distinct things. FGM prevents women from enjoying sex. .learn the difference.

          • Derkins

            who said I didn’t? i spoke only on circumcision, and then I said the two were totally different at the very end. which they are. totally different.

            In fact, any culture that would mutilate boys to the same extent that girls are, with FGM, would be dooming itself. There would be no sex, and therefore no babies. Clearly circumcision is not the same thing. Totally aside from the fact that circumcision has nothing to do with power and subjugation.

            There seems to be lots of ad-hominem going around in this thread. Let’s try and keep our trains of thought in line, and not jump tracks, here.

          • Rick Martin

            Not really. Most FGM is similar to male circumcision. Not that that makes it OK, but the press tends to focus only on the most severe form of FGM. In any event, ANY form of mutilation on someone too young or without their consent is wrong.

        • daredevil

          the fact the orthodox Jews do male circumsition on infant boys without anesthesia make the arcane practice doubly deplorable!

    • Gort1

      This isn’t about morality or culture. It’s about the subjugation and torture if women and girls for the sole purpose of “because we can”..it makes no difference if women are doing or men. .it is also not comparable to Circumsicion.

    • Prizm

      Circumcision may not have as worse an outcome as FGM, but that does NOT make it ok. Both FGM and circumcision are: mutilation of a child’s body, done without consent of the child, both invented to prevent masturbation or sexual activity, are not medically necessary, and continue to be done for religious/cultural reasons.

      • Gort1

        But the mutilation and infection and sheer aggregious practice of FGM is more urgent to address than circumcisions.

    • Diana Maras

      Hmm, no. When your penis gets cut off then come back with that statement.

      • Silverlocust

        You mean the part where I stated that the surgeries are not the same and that isn’t the point?
        And I’m sure you’re aware that FGM includes actions where there is no cutting at all.

    • Kat Chapman

      I’m not sure where I stand on this issue. I have three boys who I did not circumsise and they have all complained about problems from looking strange to cleaning issues, to trouble peeing without making a mess. One son has also experienced several bladder infections.

      • Anni Hat

        This sounds like they need instruction in hygiene. Holding the foreskin closed till it’s filled then releasing it suddenly 4 times during urination keeps it free of infection. If something has been lodged in there it should be comfortable to pull the foreskin back to expose the glans & the inside of the foreskin. If it’s not possible to pull it back to fully expose the glans there is a medical issue which can be resolved with very minor surgery, either opening the orifice or loosening the frenulum.
        Sometimes the foreskin will stick closed causing a random spray as it opens. This is normal & is dealt with by pulling the foreskin back then releasing it.
        Presumably their male role-model also has these problems?

  • pgeetruth

    “The ceremony was to initiate the teenagers into womanhood” How is this possible when their ability to feel like women is being taken away?

  • jimborg7

    Maybe now they will repeal their law that makes homosexuality punishable by execution.

  • Ethan Davidson

    It’s more complicated than it seems. In the book “My grandmothers drums” the author spends months in a poor village in Gambia where genital mutilation is unviversal. It seems that much of the driving force for women and girls to do it was—peer pressure from other women. This not an isolated incident, Often the people doing it are women. Societies that had given it up picked it up again as a way of getting back to their traditional life.
    I’m not saying that women don’t mind this procedure. I have an African female friend who had it forced upon her. Now, in the USA, she is an activist against it.
    It doesn’t take much knowing to figure out that when the same razor is used on a group of young women or girls, HIV and other diseases can be spread, The same is true when the same razor is used to circumcise a group of boys. Regardless of motivation, this practice is a health hazard and deprives women of the ability to enjoy sex before they have evan experienced it. Whatever the reasons for it, it must be stopped. It has no place in the modern world.

  • RelentlessPursuit

    Uhh… why would a country have to wait until 2015 to stop “mutilating genitals”?

  • CyberPlague

    Great, now lets stop Male Genital Mutilation too, you know, the one called Circumcision.

    • HipHopClear

      I get you however it’s not the same. You can’t compare this…because men are still able to feel their head where these women can’t. This is how women are able to orgasm too which is major. Plus on top of that, they are taught to serve the men and not express their sexual desires without attaching any stigma to it being okay to do so.

    • Kat Chapman

      A lot of male babies do not have easy movement of the foreskin and suffer with pain, irritation and infections. The only other way to deal with the problem is to gently but forcefully roll back the skin until it stretches enough to allow the head of the penis to emerge. I have three boys that I left uncircumsized for all the reasons stated here, and have lived to regret it as each boy has expressed their displeasure with my decision.

      • Anna Redgrave

        Don’t regret your decision Kat, you left your boys as nature intended and that’s the best way, male or female. However, many pediatricians give incorrect advice in the US regarding cleaning and care of the uncircumcised penis. The foreskin often does not retract in infancy and sometimes not even until the age of 5 as it is fused to the glans of the penis. This is why circumcision involves literally tearing the foreskin from the penis with a blunt probe or other device. A common mistake is to try and force it back in infancy. This can create scarring, infections and other problems. The correct way to clean and care for an uncircumcised penis in babies and young children is to leave it alone and only clean what you see. In due course the foreskin separates from the glans and retracts, usually in a natural way by the boy pulling it back when ready.

        • Anni Hat

          Often later than age 10, but yes I agree – leave it alone.

  • Well well so far so good, but how soon will this practice will be totally eradicated, God He knows… Change is hardest to accomplish, when the culture is deep rooted in a country that don’t believe in the power, strength and equality of women .. Lets pray that the women will stand up for their rights, and do whatever it takes to fight back and protect themselves.

  • Kelly Lyerla

    The women who force this practice on the girls was BECAUSE men demanded it. God made us the way he did for a reason. Leave it to man to mess it up. The time of men trying to dominate and suppress women is past over.

  • Bucky Badger

    And NOBODY here knows that circumcision can prevent cancer? The numbers aren’t that high, but studies indicate that circumcision can prevent penile cancer. With the practice of oral sex, many women prefer the circumcised male. Secondly, don’t allow the antivaccers to use these sites to promote their garbage. Finally, there should be NO excuse for circumcising females ,,, this is barbaric, unnecessary, and used by men to make sure their wife will remain faithful to him. There are many studies right here on the internet that support everything I say here by qualified urologists. I am circumcised and I am very happy with that.

    • Anni Hat

      Yes, it prevents cancer in the same way that cutting off a hand prevents hand cancer. However, the prevalence of this cancer in the intact population is minor & is considerably less than “problems” with circumcision, rectification of which can include removal of the complete penis.

  • Andrej Rodionov

    Even Nigeria bans genital mutilation!
    In America, though, male genital mutilation is encouraged and performed in every hospital. Nobody gets upset. Why? Gynocentrism. Males are second class humans. That’s why

  • Kelly Roberson

    this does not initiate then into womanhood, it keeps them from wanting to have sex and sexual desire, as most adult woman would have. this is barbaric, cruel, controlling and caveman behaviour. perhaps male castration would be a more suitable answer since there is such a problem with rape in third world countries. it’s a control problem.

  • Jean-pierre Mercier

    it’s all wishful thinking following the throwing of a few morsels to the masses. politicians worldwide don’t give a flying fuck about the status of women except where women have a vote that counts. we know that politicians will suck on just about anything, regardless of what it oozes, for a vote. FGM is not too high on the list. have you seen the list of countries where this practice goes on? they’re all stunningly democratic with the women walking right beside their men. all enabled by another democratic and modern entity, religion. as exagerated as it is in the western world, positive attention given to the welfare of women in these tin pot dictatorships is non-existant.

  • Rick Martin

    Then we have the neatherlands that have backed off on their ban on male circumcision so not to piss offend the muslims and jews. Nothing like taking a giant step backwards. It’s sickening that so many countries allow boys and girls to be genitally mutilated in order to accommodate barbaric religious practices.

  • No Time For Fools

    For all those trying to make a comparison between male circumcision and FGM, please keep this in mind.

    Yes, male circumcision is done to a child without his consent and with very little justification. But it is usually done in a sterile surgical environment when the child is only days old. He has no memory of the event.

    FGM, on the other hand, is done when the girl is anywhere from four years old to 18. She is usually forcibly held down by people she loves and trusts while some (usually) older woman comes in and slices her clitoris and labia majora off with a razor she has used on dozens of other girls and, if it’s a full infibulation, sews her labia minora almost completely closed with either a used needle or a thorn from the thorn bush. She leaves a tiny hole for urine and menstrual flow to pass. All this happens without the girl’s consent and without anesthesia. Then, on her wedding night, her husband will either cut her open so he can penetrate her, or force his way in with his penis. Again, there is no anesthesia used. The psychological trauma is as great or greater than the physical trauma.

    Seriously, does this really sound like the same thing to you?

    • Reason26

      The same societies that cut girls also cut boys. Genital cutting on boys here in the US may be in sterile environments, but genital cutting on boys when performed in the cultures you are referring to happen within the same context with unclean cutting tools in non sterile environments. This is also done without anesthesia performed on older children, many times as a rite of passage into adulthood.The majority of genital cutting on boys is performed on older children. Americans and Jews are the only two groups that perform the majority of infant circumcision on boys. And you mention “it is usually done in a sterile surgical environment when the child is only days old. He has no memory of the event.” almost as if this makes it okay. If it were opposite and we cut girls when they were one day old and wouldn’t remember it, would it make it any better?

    • Anni Hat

      Actually, male children are held down for this & anaesthesia _does_not_work_ on newborns so they feel all of the pain which permanently re-wires their brains. The prepuce is fused to the glans until age 10 years (approximately) so the common American procedure involves literally tearing the flesh. Jews wait till the prepuce is detached before cutting it off.

  • Jacob Lorensen

    Congrats, girls. Next step forbidding male genital mutilation