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Female Genital Mutilation Outlawed in Nigeria

By: Ruth  Muganzi

June seems to have carried with it good tidings for the human rights struggle; an act outlawing female genital mutilation has officially been passed into law after being passed in the Senate on May 5th.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the act of either partially or totally removing the external female genitalia or causing injury to the female genital organs for non-medical purposes.

FGM is one of the practices that have continued to be carried out in some parts of Africa as demanded by some cultures despite the fact that scientific research has provided evidence that the act has negative impacts acts on not only the victims’ sex lives but also  on their health in general.

With the help of community activism, campaigns and a number of organizational efforts to end this practice, statistics have shown that teenage girls were now one-third less likely to undergo FGM today as compared to 30 years ago.

With the new law regarding FGM a crime, Anti FGM activists are hoping the practice will be completely wiped out.

The new law under the Violence Against Persons (prohibition) Act 2015 is one of the last acts that were passed under outgoing President Jonathan Goodluck’s regime.

A narrative from an FGM Victim as adapted from vice.com

Khadija Gbla was nine years old when her clitoris was butchered with a rusty knife.

She was driven to a hut in the middle of the Gambian bush and told to take off her clothes. Her mother pinned her down while another woman took the blade to her genitals. She had no idea what was happening.

Seventeen years later, Gbla is married and expecting her first child, but the day she was subjected to female genital mutilation has never left her. “People don’t understand the impact female genital mutilation (FGM) has on a woman,” says Gbla, who recently said that, while she doesn’t enjoy being the face of FGM. “I suffered because of it during my teenage years, I knew the effect when I was married, and am seeing another side now I’m pregnant.”

Born in Sierra Leone, Gbla and her family fled their war-torn country for Australia in 2001. Her mother underwent female genital mutilation as a child and arranged for it to be carried out on Gbla before leaving Africa.