Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill last week which officially criminalizes female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM). Around 19.9 million Nigerian women are said to have been victim of this practice.
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 surgically altered for non-medical reasons. The practice has no proven health benefits and is considered to be a violation of human rights of girls and women by international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
This legislation is an important step in the right direction for Nigeria since it is Africa’s most populous country. The hope is that this step towards passing a bill against FGM will have a ripple effect across all 26 African nations that have significant populations of women undergo the same practice.