TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Overview Of The Female Circumcision (Prohibition) Law (Ekiti State) 2002 – 29th November, 2018

This is a Law to prohibit female genital mutilation, also erroneously called female circumcision, in Ekiti State. It prescribes punishment for offenders of #FGM. This law makes female genital mutilation a crime punishable by fine and imprisonment.

Before we proceed to analyse this law, it is important that we understand what Female Genital Mutilation is.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies FGM into 4 types. WHO classifies FGM into four categories with subdivisions.

FGM Type 1: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). The 2 subdivisions are;

FGM Type 1a: removal of the prepuce/clitoral hood (circumcision) and  

FGM Type 1b: removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

FGM Type 2: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision). The 3 subdivisions are of FGM Type 2 are;

FGM Type 2a: removal of the labia minora only;

FGM Type 2b: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; and

FGM Type 2c: partial or total removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora.

FGM Type 3: Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with the 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). The 2 subdivisions are;

FGM Type 3a: removal and appositioning the labia minora with or without excision of the clitoris; and

FGM Type 3b: removal and appositioning the labia majora with or without excision of the clitoris.

FGM Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with or at risk of suffering the associated negative health consequences of FGM.

Every year 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to the potential negative health consequences of this harmful practice.

FGM has no known health benefits, and those girls and women who have undergone the procedure are at great risk of suffering from its complications throughout their lives.

Immediate consequences of FGM include severe pain and bleeding, shock, difficulty in passing urine, infections, injury to nearby genital tissue and sometimes death.

The procedure can result in death through severe bleeding leading to haemorrhagic shock, neurogenic shock as a result of pain and trauma, and overwhelming infection and septicaemia.

According to Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Almost all women who have undergone FGM experience pain and bleeding as a consequence of the procedure.

The event itself is traumatic as girls are held down during the procedure. Risk and complications increase with the type of FGM and are more severe and prevalent with infibulations.

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. Research shows that when women’s and girls’ human rights are reinforced and legally protected, FGM declines or is abandoned altogether.

The Female Circumcision (Prohibition) Law of Ekiti State was enacted by the House of Assembly of Ekiti State of Nigeria and signed into law on the 13th of August, 2002 by Governor Adeniyi Adebayo.

This law seeks to prohibit some harmful traditional practices prevalent in communities in Ekiti state against women, such as female circumcision or  genital mutilation which may result in disastrous consequences on the physical and mental health of women.

The law deals solely with female genital mutilation, often called female circumcision in the Law, and provides penalties for its violation.

Ekiti State Female Circumcision (Prohibition) Law of 2002 defines circumcision or genital mutilation as the act of cutting off the clitoris of the female.

It also defines Mutilation as any cutting, incision, damage, or removal of any or all of the sex organs.

Section 2 and 3 of the Law deals with Prohibition of female circumcision or genital mutilation.

Section 2 of the law says that; “No person shall circumcise or mutilate the genital organ of any female, whether or not her consent is obtained”.

Section 3 breaks down the offence further, and stipulates the penalty for violation of the law.

The classes of offenders under the law are;

  • Any person who performs the operation of female circumcision or female genital mutilation.
  • Any person who offers herself for circumcision or genital mutilation
  • Any person who coerces, entices, or induces any person to undergo female genital mutilation.
  • Any person who allows any female child/ward to be circumcised or caused her genital organ to be mutilated.

Anyone that violates this law for the first time shall be liable on conviction to a fine of Ten Thousand Naira or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 2 years.

Every subsequent violation shall attract imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years without an option of fine.

On power of arrest, the law, through Section 4 empowers members of the police, officers of the Ministry of Health, health Officers in the Local Government Areas to arrest offenders under this law.

The law also recognises that subject to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, any person authorised by law, may equally arrest offenders under this Law.

Such authorised persons include the officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp, justices of the peace and any other law enforcement institution as may be created from time to time by the government.

Any person arrested under the provision of this law shall be arraigned before a Magistrate.

The Law goes further to enumerate what FGM entails, its harmful effects, and its prevalence in the country at the time of making the law.

The law recognizes that FGM entails using sterilized, or in most cases, unsterilized objects for the practice.

The law mentions some of the health effects of the practice to include; mental, physical and psychological pains to the affected female.

More specifically, excessive bleeding (haemorrhage), blood poisoning (serticemia), infections such as STDs and HIV, painful menstruation, painful intercourse, keloid, cyst formation, neurosis, phobia for sex, razorphobia, lack of confidence and feeling of inadequacy in sexual relations, prolonged labour, heamatocolps, among others.

In summary, the law recognizes the dangers of FGM, therefore criminalizing the practice, and setting out penalties for anyone involved in the practice from the consenting female to the enabler to the cutter and everyone on the chain of the practice.

It is however pertinent to state here that the law was passed since 2002. Over 16 years ago. The law is due for review and amendment.

Provisions such as the definition of terms should be amended to reflect present day best practice. The financial penalties should also be raised to make it more punitive and deterring.

It is also critical that the law should incorporate penalties for medicalization of the practice.

As it is in the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, persons who are aware of the practice but fail to report, and persons who try to cover/hide the practice should also be specifically provided for under the Ekiti law.

Having shared a concise analysis of the Ekiti State Law, we also understand that the good people of Ekiti state need to be aware of this law. Hence, the need for dissemination of this law across LGAs, Towns and Communities. #endcuttinggirls  @endcuttinggirls

There is a need to further engage the security agencies and concerned Ministries, agencies and departments of government towards the enforcement of these laws to avoid having them as just virtual accomplishments.

There is a need to also train the personnel in the judiciary and the security agencies on the provisions of the law.

The most important ingredient of this law is public acceptance. Beyond the penalties and provisions of this law, the people need to make a stand to abandon this practice, as has been seen in several communities in Ekiti.

Communities like Ikere, Ogotun, Orin, Igbara Odo and 70 other communities have made public declarations to abandon the practice. More of such declarations and their follow-through are needed to see an end to this practice.

Thank you for your time. We will now welcome questions and contributions.

We implore you to join us every Thursday from 5pm to 7pm. Also visit our website www.endcuttinggirls.org and follow the handle “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria’’ on all social media platforms.

Next week, join @mbamonyii and @olamosesdecoda as they will lead us on another insightful session on #FGM abandonment.

Together we will end FGM in this generation. #endcuttinggirls. @endcuttinggirls

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