Huge News: FGM Banned in Nigeria

HUGE news from Nigeria: FGM has been banned. Female genital mutilation is the process of cutting a female’s outer genitalia: either all or partial. This is not for medical reasons and is done on women of all ages, but generally minors. Around over 125 million women and girls alive today have been cut.

It is a brutal, harmful and horrific practice. From a medical point of view it can cause problems for a woman for the rest of her life. Soon after cutting she might experience bleeding, infection, hemorrhaging, sores and urine retention. It causes problems with periods and childbirth, with a greater likelihood of death in newborn infants. FGM can cause death. Not to mention the pain and humiliation of the procedure (especially when I women is often ‘opened up’ for sex only to be stitched back up repeatedly after each childbirth).

It’s also horrific because of why it is done. It is often done in the name of ‘honour’. If a girl’s clitoris is removed, then her libido will be reduced. Therefore she is less likely to seek sex before marriage and bring shame on her family, nor will she cheat on her husband. It’s also a social convention – it’s what generations have done for years, it is believed to have a religious foundation – so it’s continued.

Waris Dirie is a famous ex-model who has been speaking out about FGM for years. I read her book, A Desert Flower, and it really helps you live the painful experience and subsequent effects, and feel passionate in wanting to stop it. I’ll definitely do a more detailed post on her in the future.

waris desertflowerbook

FGM requires a multi-pronged attack at every level: community, community leaders (many religious leaders do speak out against it) right up to enormous, celebrity-backed campaigns by the UN. Nigeria introducing this law is a huge step, as it is a huge and powerful country in Africa and around a quarter of Nigeria’s women have undergone FGM there. It shows that the tide is turning, and that women will be given some form of legal protection in a country.

Every time a girl is cut, my heart bleeds for her: she is violated in both body and rights. The campaigns are gaining ground, and more and more people know what FGM is and why we should fight it. Nigeria introducing this law is great, but this is only a battle. We need to win a war.

To find out more there are lots of sites. the WHO has a comprehensive and informative website. Waris Dirie started the Desert Flower Organisation and I really recommend reading Desert Flower. Check out the End FGM Network too, which is formed of 11 member organisations.

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