TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Overview of Imo State Female Genital Mutilation (Prohibition) Law, 2017 – 8th November, 2018

The World Health organisation (@WHO), defines the term “Female Genital Mutilation” as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

There are 4 Types of female genital mutilation (FGM)

Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).

Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora.

Type III: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

FGM of any type is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM is known to be harmful to girls and women in many ways.

The removal of or damage to healthy, normal genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and causes several immediate and long-term physical, psychological and sexual consequences.

Although FGM is a harmful traditional practice, those who subject their daughters to the practice include those that are educated, as well as those that are not.

In some communities, there is a belief that if FGM is not done, the girl will become promiscuous and will not be able to get married. However, these are just beliefs and have no scientific backing.

The Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2013) revealed that Five states (Osun, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo and Oyo), have recorded high prevalence rates of FGM with more than 60 percent.

Osun had the highest FGM prevalence rate in Nigeria, at 77 percent, while Imo State was 68 percent, according to Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2013.

Currently, there is a federal law in Nigeria called Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) (VAPP) Act 2015, which has provisions against FGM.

On 30th March 2017, the Anti-FGM Bill that was enacted by the Imo State House of Assembly of Nigeria, was signed the into Law the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. The Imo State Anti-FGM Law is divided into nine sections, namely, 1) Citation; 2) Interpretation; 3) Prohibition; 4) Offences and penalties; 5) Consent not defence; 6) Commission of the offence outside the state; Power to arrest without warrant; 8) Information and education; and 9) Repeal/of Section 25 of Law No.6 of 2004. The Long Title of the Imo State Anti-FGM Law is “A Law to prohibit the act of Female Genital Mutilation in Imo State and for other related matters”

We shall not review the nine sections of the Imo State Anti-FGM Law of 2017

Section 1 of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017: Citation:  

The Imo State Anti-FGM Law shall be cited as the Imo State Female Genital Mutilation (Prohibition) Law 2017.

Section 2 of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017: Interpretation:

In this law, unless the context otherwise requires: “adult female” means any female who is up to 18 years of age and above; “commissioner” means the Commissioner in charge of health matters in the State:  “Female genital mutilation includes

  1. Clitoridectomy which involves the removal of the prepuce of the hood of the clitoris itself and the posterior;
  2. Excision which involves the removal of the clitoris along with parts of the labia minora or all of it;  
  3. Infibulations otherwise known as “pharonic circumcision” which involves the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the adjacent media part of the labia majora in their anterior two-thirds, whether or not the two sides of the vulva are stitched together or merely an openi.ng of the size of a pin head to allow for the flow of urine and menstrual blood;
  4. lntrociston, including :’gishiri cuts”;
  5. “Angurya cut”, that is, scraping or cutting of the vagina;
  6.  Pricking, piercing or incising of the clitoris or labia, “Stretching of the clitoris or labia;
  7. Cauterization, that is, searing of the clitoris, labia and vagina with hot iron or caustic, in order to make same insensitive;
  8. Introduction of corrosive substances and herbs in the vagina, in order to desensitize it; and
  9. Other forms of female genital mutilation.

Section 3 of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017: Prohibition:

As from the commencement of this law, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is prohibited, any custom or tradition notwithstanding. :

Section 4 of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017: Offences and penalties:  

(1) Any person who knowingly separates or surgically alters the normal healthy functioning genital tissue/organ of a female, circumcises, pricks, pierces, cuts or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or minora of a female or performs any other form of Female Genital Mutilation as described in Section 2 of this Law is guilty of an offence. :

(2) Any adult female who willingly submits herself for the performance of Female Genital Mutilation as described in Section 2 and subsection. (1) of this Section is guilty of the offence of the Female Genital Mutilation. :

(3) No person shall assault or cause another to suffer a disability or discrimination on the ground that such a person refused to undergo the act of Female Genital Mutilation. :

(4) Any person who violates the provisions of subsections (1) and (2) of this Section shall be deemed to have committed the offence of Female Genital Mutilation and shall be liable on conviction, to imprisonment for fourteen (14) years or a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand naira (N250,000.00) or to both such term of imprisonment and fine. :

(5) Any person who violates the provisions of sub-section (3) of this Section is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction, to imprisonment for three (3) years or a fine of One hundred thousand naira (N100,000.00) or to both such term of imprisonment and fine.

(6) Any person who aids and abets the performance of Female Genital Mutilation is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction, to imprisonment for seven (7) years or to a fine of one hundred and fifty thousand naira (N150,000.00) or to both such term of imprisonment and fine.

Section 5 of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017: Consent not defence:

It shall not be a defence to any offence committed under this Law that the victim consented to have Female Genital Mutilation performed on her or that the victim’s parents or legal guardians consented to the practice.

Section 6 of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017: Commission of the offence outside the state

Any person who does anything for the purpose of removing from the State, a person who is ordinarily resident in the State and performs the act of Female Genital Mutilation on such person is guilty of the offence of Female Genital Mutilation and shall be liable as provided in Subsection (1) of Section 4 of this Law.

Section 7 of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017: Power to arrest without warrant

Any person who contravenes the provisions of this Law may be arrested without warrant by any of the Law Enforcement Agencies and may be charged to court if found culpable after investigation.

Section 8 of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017: Information and education

(1) Pursuant to the provisions of this Law, the Commissioner in charge of Health matters in the State in collaboration with (a) Ministries responsible for Women Affairs/Social Development and Information; and (b) International Donor Agencies and other NGOs Shall initiate and carry out educative and preventive out-reach programs in Communities that traditionally perform Female Genital Mutilation for the purpose of informing members of those Communities, the health risks and complications associated with the performance of Female Genital Mutilation as well as bringing the provisions of this Law to their notice.

(2) The Ministry in charge of Health matters in the State shall –

  1. compile a data of victims of Female Genital Mutilation in the State especially those under the age of eighteen (18) years;…
  • ensure that the risks and complications associated with the practice of Female Genital Mutilation form part of the curricular of the State owned Medical Schools, Schools of Nursing and other Schools offering Health related courses in the State.

Section 9 of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017: Repeal/of Section 25 of Law No.6 of 2004

Section 25 of the Child Rights Law No.6 of 2004 is repealed.

Having shared the stand of the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017, we also understand that this law will be dormant if it is not implemented.

We have made three recommendations for implementing the Imo State FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017.

Recommendation 1: There is a need for stakeholders, including the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM: Accelerating Change to disseminate this law to the people of Imo State as recommended by the law.

Recommendation 2: There is a need to also train the personnel in the judiciary, Ministry of Justice and the law enforcement agencies (Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps) on the provisions of the law.

Recommendation 3: The is a need to advocate to the government of Imo State to make budgetary provisions and release funds for the execution of the Law, especially section 8, which talks about Information and Education.

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