that laws against FGM, in Nigeria, are not necessarily meant to punish anyone
rather to promote the health and welfare of women and girls.
community-level public declarations and various level of consensus building on
FGM abandonment are already being widely recorded among cutting communities in
various states in Nigeria.
forward, a functional and accessible end-FGM legal framework is no doubt an
important tool for eliminating this harmful traditional practice completely.
enactment of the anti-FGM law, Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015,
which is being domesticated by various States, represents a milestone in the
campaign to end FGM in Nigeria.
is need to ensure that FGM-related legal services are not just in existence but
also accessible by the end-users; FGM survivors or girls/womenat risk of being
subjected to the practice.
refers to any procedure that involves “partial or total removal of the external
female genitalia, or any other injury to the female genital organs for
non-medical reasons.” The World Health Organization
(WHO) has classified FGM into four types, and they are all practiced in
I FGM: 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
II FGM: 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.
III FGM: 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
Reinfibulation is covered under this definition.
This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth
when defibulation is necessary.
IV FGM: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to
the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing,
incising, scraping and cauterization.
Type IV FGM also includes the practice of
“massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the
clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in
many parts of Nigeria, especially Imo State.
is widely recognized as a harmful practice and a violation of the human rights
of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted discrimination against girls and
women, profoundly entrenched in social, economic and political structures.
de facto violent, the practice is perpetrated without a primary intention of
violence. It is considered to be a necessary step to enable girls to become
women and to be socially accepted, together with the rest of the family.
functions as a self-enforcing social convention or social norm. Families and
individuals uphold the practice because they believe that their group or
society expects them to do so and they expect that they will suffer social
sanctions if they do not.
For more information on FGM you can visit
http://www.who.int andwww.endcuttinggirls.com. You may also watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0-dYD9cYKo&t=80sand other EndFGM- related videos on our YouTube channel
“Endcuttinggirls Nigeria”. @WHO
Nigeria, data from 2016-2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) indicates
that the National FGM prevalence rate has dropped from 27% (2011 MICS)to 18.4%(2017
MICS)for amongst women aged 15-49years. The positive changes may be reflecting
supportive legal and policy environments at national level, state, as well as
community-based efforts to abandon FGM in Nigeria.
the progress made in so far in Nigeria, many girls still remain at risk of FGM. This is reflected in the National FGM
prevalence among girls aged 0-14 years, which increased from 19.2% (MICS 2011)
to 25.3% (MICS 2017).
the health challenges, FGM also violates a series of well-established human
rights principles, norms and standards.
rights principles violated by FGM includes: 1) Principles of equality and
non-discrimination on the basis of sex,2) Right to life when the procedure
results in death; other Human rights principles violated by FGM are 3) Right to
freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 4)
Rights of the child; and 5) Right to the highest attainable standard of health.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children(UNCRC), a human rights
treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic social, health and
cultural rights of children, also strives to protect children from FGM in
Article 24: Countries should take all effective and appropriate measures with a
view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.
Nigeria, there are national laws prohibiting the practice of FGM and other
offences issues which violate the rights of Girls/Women such as the 1999
Constitution (as amended), Child Rights Act(2003) and Violence Against Persons
Prohibition law (2015). The Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as
amended) states that “No person shall be subjected to any form of torture,
inhuman or degrading treatment”.
section 11(B) of the Child Rights Act (2003) states that “No child shall be subjected
to any form of torture,inhuman or degrading treatment”. Violence Against
Persons Prohibition Law (2015) states that ”a person who performs female circumcisionor
genital mutilation or engages another to carry out such,commits an offence
punishable by 4 years imprisonment or to a fine of N200,000 or both.
addition to the National Laws, we also State laws that prohibit the practice of
FGM in the five states where the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating
FGM is taking place such as 1) Ebonyi State Violence Against Persons
(Prohibition) Law, 2018; other anti-FGM laws are Imo state FGM (Prohibition)
Law (2017); Violence Against Women Law, 2016 (Oyo State); Osun State Female
Circumcision and Genital Mutilation (Prohibition) Law 2004; and Female
Circumcision (Prohibition) Law, 2002 (Ekiti State).
availability of FGM-related legal services is important but also essential in
ensuring the accessibility of services to persons subjected to FGM and/or
persons facing the threat of undergoing the practice.
Firstly, In Nigeria
where the culture of silence still surrounds FGM in many quarters, a lot needs
to be done to encourage people to speak out when subjected or about to be
subjected to this harmful practice.
public needs to be aware that a survivor has the freedom and the right to
disclose an incident to anyone.
in Nigeria many women and girls who would need FGM-related services may not
have the financial willpower to access such services.
to harmonize the process involved in accessing FGM-related legal services, all
government and non-government stakeholders at various state levels need to come
together and develop a bottom-up Standard Operating Procedures
referral pathways, with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs),will serve for
case management and by extension make easier the accessibility of FGM-related
stakeholders and organizations must thereafter commit to disseminate the SOPs
and referral pathways in communities where they operate to ensure knowledge and
improve access of FGM survivors to services (including legal) and support.
the bottom of the referral pathway, a survivor may disclose her experience or
threat of FGM to a trusted family member or friend. She may also seek help from
a trusted individuals or organization.
the survivor tells about her experience has a responsibility to give honest and
complete information about services (including legal) available and encourage
her to seek help where available.
earlier mentioned above, the survivor has the freedom to report the
incident/event to anyone. She may seek help from community leaders, social
workers, health workers or friends.
each FGM case, the provider need to ensure that a written consent form is
completed by the survivor describing the incident in her own words.
the survivor is trying to escape FGM, she would still provide information on
the event and provide her consent before protection or any other services are
if the survivor is illiterate, her exact words should be written and read
loudly to him/her to understand before he/she can indicate signature with a
should be made among the various government and non-government actors from
those who first got the report to the actual legal service providers.
legal services are needed, the consent of the survivor has to be gotten and
then referred to appropriate agency to provide security, protection and legal
services, complete the incident form and document incident.
each case where a referral is made, a follow up is necessary to ensure that
services are provided, and also to ensure client satisfaction and safety.
members of the organizations that receive the referrals must also be properly
oriented on the guiding principles in the SOP for service provision.
receiving initial report of a girl-child or woman who is threatened with FGM,
the person who has this information should contact and make referrals to
relevant agencies and organization for child protection.
these relevant agencies and organization for child protection are the State
Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (SMWASD), National Human
Rights Commission, FIDA, Child Protection Network (CPN), and others.
agencies will make sure to abide by the procedures for caring for child
survivors and should also utilize the applicable laws in the state to ensure protection
of the child.
the case of a child facing the complications of FGM, the service provider
should also follow the steps and guide in the SOP and referral pathway to
ensure access to urgent medical intervention.
documentation, reporting and information management the SOP should adopt a
format that will ensure that information on incident is systematically recorded
and stored in a safe place.
who are signed on to this SOP should ensure the following: that their staff
members are oriented on how to complete the forms and interact with the
survivor in line with the guiding principles.
for this SOP must attend a quarterly review forum to be to review successes,
discuss challenges, share lessons learnt and work out the way forward.
should be annual or bi-annual review of the SOPs. However, the referral
pathways will continue to be reviewed as necessary by the actors as necessary
to maintain relevance and focus.
Nigeria, traditional and community leaders are major decision makers whose
positions and opinions influence community behavior. Therefore, FGM response
and legal services must integrate the actions and perceptions of this social
group. Community and religious leaders are able to meaningfully intervene in
several ways to reduce the incidence of FGM in Nigeria.
will be made to educate, sensitize and include community and religious leaders
who are FGM champions in the overall FGM response in the state as active actors
in the referral pathways.
Federal and State Governments should ensure that adequate funding is available
for anti FGM programmes to disseminate clear and accurate information around the
Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the
judiciary need adequate support and training around the law and should be
encouraged to apply sentences provided for by the legislation. The increased
involvement of local and religious leaders in education around the law,
including their responsibilities and the importance of the law in protecting
women and girls in their communities, should be encouraged.
could be encouraged to make sure any prosecutions relating to FGM are clearly
reported, including by local media such as community radio, and made available
in local languages.
monitoring and collection of data around enforcement and cases of FGM would
help to inform strategies and programmes.
reporting of instances of FGM by medical staff in hospitals and health centres
could be considered. Where they are currently unavailable and a need is
identified, appropriate protection measures (for example, emergency telephone
lines or safe spaces) should be put in place for girls at risk of FGM.
could be printed and widely distributed in local languages, to make them more
widely available to the public, including in forms that can be used in areas of
low literacy. Local community radio and
other media channels, including mobile phone technology and social media
platforms, should also be considered for dissemination of information on the
law in Nigeria.
Conclusion, I believe that an increased awareness and a simplified referral
pathway will make FGM-related services more accessible to
the general public.
learn more about the @endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign to end FGM, please
visit endcuttinggirls.org and follow our social media handles on Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls
time to see and respond to your questions and/or opinions based on the
conference topic. Keep them coming.