Nigeria

Country: Nigeria

Population: 186.1 million (July 2016 est.)[1]

Languages:[2] English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani and over 500 additional indigenous languages.

Major religions:[3] Islam 50%, Christian 40%, Indigenous beliefs 10%

Estimated FGC prevalence among women aged 15-49:

25%[4]

Today, 20 million women and girls have undergone FGC in Nigeria. However, there is evidence of significant generational change in the prevalence of FGC as women aged 45-49 are around twice as likely to have been cut as girls aged 15-19.[5]

table

Type(s) practised:[6]

While three types (I, II and III) are practised throughout the country, Type III has a higher prevalence in the northern states. Type I and II are more predominant in the south. Of the six largest ethnic groups, the Yoruba practise mainly Type II and Type I. The Hausa and Kanuri practise Type III. The Igbo and Ijaw, depending upon the local community, practise any one of the three forms. Cutting usually occurs before the age of 5.[7]

Legal status:[8]

In May 2015 the government passed a federal law banning FGC in Nigeria.[9] The so called VAPP Act (Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act) penalises a person who performs FGC with a maximum of four years in prison or a fine of 200,000 naira ($1,000), or both. It punishes anyone who aids or abets such a person with a maximum of two years’ imprisonment or a fine of 100,000 naira ($500), or both. For purposes of the act, FGC means cutting all or part of the external sex organs of a girl or woman other than on medical grounds.

 


[1] ‘Nigeria’ (The World Factbook, CIA) <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ni.html> accessed 8 December 2016

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] ‘Nigeria: Statistical profile on female genital mutilation/cutting’ (Unicef) <http://data.unicef.org/wp-content/uploads/country_profiles/Nigeria/FGMC_NGA.pdf> accessed 8 December 2016

[5] ibid

[6] Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, Nigeria: Report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC) (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2001)

<https://2001-2009.state.gov/g/wi/rls/rep/crfgm/10106.htm> accessed 8 December 2016

[7] 28 Too Many, FGM In Nigeria: Key Findings October 2016 (28 Too Many 2016) <http://28toomany.org/media/uploads/nigeria_key_findings_october_2016.pdf> accessed 9 December 2016

[8] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, NIGERIA 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2015) <http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/252927.pdf> accessed 8 December 2016

[9] Alexandra Topping, ‘Nigeria's female genital mutilation ban is important precedent, say campaigners’ The Guardian (London, 29 May 2015) <https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/29/outlawing-fgm-nigeria-hugely-important-precedent-say-campaigners> accessed 9 December 2016

History of FGC in Nigeria:

Throughout history, FGC has been a taboo that is seldom discussed and thus it has not been targeted as a central issue in Nigeria.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

There have been various efforts to end FGC in Nigeria.  An anti-FGC campaign has long been waged by international, national and non-governmental organisations. [1] The Nigerian government has also publicly declared its opposition to the practice.

More specifically, the Inter-Africa Committee has repeatedly used media and communications to raise awareness about the practice and many organisations, such as the WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) among others, have financially supported the efforts of Nigerian NGOs in addressing the practice.[2] NGOs target both community level and state level. Most NGOs working on this issue claim that helping traditional communities change their cultural folklore is necessary to end FGC.[3] Proverbs, songs, theatrical and dance performances, and other cultural activities have reinforced this practice for centuries. As a result, local campaigns have been more successful than their federal or international counterparts because they have dealt with the issues of cultural traditions. Communities have used a horizontal approach by working directly with people to integrate new, healthier practices in a traditional society. NGOs have also pointed out the importance of men changing their attitudes towards marrying uncut women.[4]

In 2015, the news of Nigeria’s ban on FGC was welcomed by campaigners hoping it will have a knock-on effect in the other three African nations where the practice is still legal (Liberia, Mali and Sudan).[5] The Ministry of Health, women’s groups and many NGOs also sponsored public awareness projects to educate communities about FGC health risks.[6] In February 2016, it was announced that a course would be introduced into Nigeria’s medical curriculum for doctors and nurses, aimed at helping medical staff to support women or girls undergone FGC.[7] During the same period, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, the first lady of Nigeria, appealed to the wives of the state governors in the country to use their position towards ensuring that FGC comes to an end within a generation.[8]  13 years earlier, Stella Obasanjo, former first lady of Nigeria, had officially declared "Zero Tolerance to FGM" to be commemorated every year on February 6th.[9]

Moreover, increased mobile phone use among the younger generation has given rise to some degree of hope in spreading news of the dangers of FGC.[10] Lots of young people are openly speaking about the practice on social media platforms in an effort to draw the attention of local and national authorities to violence against women and girls.[11] Lately, Lagos authorities have been continuously declaring their opposition to FGC.[12] In the state of Osun, 12 communities declared that they were against FGC in an FGC Abandonment Declaration Ceremony organised by the Shericare Foundation, an initiative of the wife of the governor, Sherifat Aregbesola.[13]

Ongoing challenges:

There have been reports that FGC is being increasingly performed in a medical setting which is more difficult to address. In 2004, a survey revealed that one third of FGC cases in Nigeria were carried out by medical doctors.[14] However, the most recent Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) in 2013 showed that this percentage is much lower.[15] According to 28 Too Many, it is not common in Nigeria for medical professionals to perform FGC; however, it may be that medical professionals are carrying out FGC secretly or simply that the results of the 2004 study are no longer accurate.[16]

As far as the recent legislation against FGC is concerned, the VAPP Act only applies to the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. It is up to each of the 36 states to pass similar legislation in its territory.  So far, 13 out of the 36 states have similar laws in place. However, once the state legislature criminalised FGC, NGOs found they had to convince local authorities that state laws apply in their districts. There has also been poor enforcement of the law, as the federal government has taken no legal action yet to curb the practice.[17]

Another challenge faced by NGOs working to educate communities about the health hazards of FGC is underfunding and logistical obstacles limiting their contact with the public and health-care workers.[18]

 


[1] Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, Nigeria: Report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC) (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2001)

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] Alexandra Topping, ‘Nigeria's female genital mutilation ban is important precedent, say campaigners’ The Guardian (London, 29 May 2015) <https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/29/outlawing-fgm-nigeria-hugely-important-precedent-say-campaigners> accessed 9 December 2016

[6] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, NIGERIA 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2015) <http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/252927.pdf> accessed 8 December 2016

[7] Arthur Chatora, ‘Nigeria: Medical and nursing councils to offer course in female genital mutilation to fight the practice’ (This Is Africa, 19 February 2016) <http://thisisafrica.me/16782-2/> accessed 9 December 2016

[8] Sola Ogundipe, ‘Let's End FGM/C in Nigeria, Aishat Buhari Tasks Governors' Wives’ (Vanguard, 11 February 2016) < http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/02/lets-end-fgmc-in-nigeria-aishat-buhari-tasks-governors-wives/> accessed 9 December 2016

[9] Donna Clifton and Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs, ‘A Decade of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting’ (PRB, 6 February 2013) <http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2013/fgm-zero-tolerance-2013.aspx> accessed 12 December 2016

[10]Claire Daly and Mary Carson, ‘Nigeria: 20 million women and girls have undergone FGM’ The Guardian (London, 11 October 2016) < https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/11/fgm-nigeria-20-million-women-and-girls-undergone-female-genital-mutilation> accessed 9 December 2016

[11] Kieran Guilbert, ‘Nigeria's youth turn to social media to report FGM: activists’ Reuters (Dakar, 11 October 2016) <http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nigeria-fgm-idUSKCN12B25A?il=0> accessed 9 December 2016

[12] Segun Adebowale, ‘Ambode says Lagos must achieve zero tolerance for female genital mutilation’ (The Eagle Online, 30 November 2016) <http://theeagleonline.com.ng/ambode-says-lagos-must-achieve-zero-tolerance-for-female-genital-mutilation/> accessed 9 December 2016; ‘Ambode, Ajimobi, Aregbesola make case for women empowerment’ (Vanguard, 7 December 2016) <http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/12/ambode-ajimobi-aregbesola-make-case-women-empowerment/> accessed 9 December 2016

[13] ‘After UN report, 12 Osun communities renounce female circumcision’ (Premium Times, 7 December 2016) <http://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/ssouth-west/217237-un-report-12-osun-communities-renounce-female-circumcision.html> accessed 9 December 2016

[14] 28 Too Many (n 7)

[15] National Population Commission (NPC) [Nigeria] and ICF International, Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2013 (Abuja, Nigeria, and Rockville, Maryland, USA: NPC and ICF International, 2014)

[16] 28 Too Many, FGM In Nigeria: Key Findings October 2016 (28 Too Many 2016) <http://28toomany.org/media/uploads/nigeria_key_findings_october_2016.pdf> accessed 9 December 2016

[17] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (n 6)

[18] ibid

Prevalence by geographical area:

In Nigeria, the prevalence of FGC varies significantly by state.

map-final

Unicef 2014

Practising ethnic groups:

table-1

 

Prevailing attitudes towards FGC:

table-2

Reference List:

28 Too Many, FGM In Nigeria: Key Findings October 2016 (28 Too Many 2016) <http://28toomany.org/media/uploads/nigeria_key_findings_october_2016.pdf> accessed 9 December 2016

Adebowale S, ‘Ambode says Lagos must achieve zero tolerance for female genital mutilation’ (The Eagle Online, 30 November 2016) <http://theeagleonline.com.ng/ambode-says-lagos-must-achieve-zero-tolerance-for-female-genital-mutilation/> accessed 9 December 2016

‘After UN report, 12 Osun communities renounce female circumcision’ (Premium Times, 7 December 2016) <http://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/ssouth-west/217237-un-report-12-osun-communities-renounce-female-circumcision.html> accessed 9 December 2016

‘Ambode, Ajimobi, Aregbesola make case for women empowerment’ (Vanguard, 7 December 2016) <http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/12/ambode-ajimobi-aregbesola-make-case-women-empowerment/> accessed 9 December 2016

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, NIGERIA 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2015) <http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/252927.pdf> accessed 8 December 2016

Chatora A, ‘Nigeria: Medical and nursing councils to offer course in female genital mutilation to fight the practice’ (This Is Africa, 19 February 2016) <http://thisisafrica.me/16782-2/> accessed 9 December 2016

Clifton D and Feldman-Jacobs C, ‘A Decade of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting’ (PRB, 6 February 2013) <http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2013/fgm-zero-tolerance-2013.aspx> accessed 12 December 2016

Guilbert K, ‘Nigeria's youth turn to social media to report FGM: activists’ Reuters (Dakar, 11 October 2016) <http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nigeria-fgm-idUSKCN12B25A?il=0> accessed 9 December 2016

National Population Commission (NPC) [Nigeria] and ICF International, Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2013 (Abuja, Nigeria, and Rockville, Maryland, USA: NPC and ICF International, 2014)

‘Nigeria’ (The World Factbook, CIA) <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ni.html> accessed 8 December 2016

‘Nigeria: Statistical profile on female genital mutilation/cutting’ (Unicef) <http://data.unicef.org/wp-content/uploads/country_profiles/Nigeria/FGMC_NGA.pdf> accessed 8 December 2016

Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, Nigeria: Report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC) (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2001) <https://2001-2009.state.gov/g/wi/rls/rep/crfgm/10106.htm> accessed 8 December 2016

Ogundipe S, ‘Let's End FGM/C in Nigeria, Aishat Buhari Tasks Governors' Wives’ (Vanguard, 11 February 2016) < http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/02/lets-end-fgmc-in-nigeria-aishat-buhari-tasks-governors-wives/> accessed 9 December 2016

Topping A, ‘Nigeria's female genital mutilation ban is important precedent, say campaigners’ The Guardian (London, 29 May 2015) <https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/29/outlawing-fgm-nigeria-hugely-important-precedent-say-campaigners> accessed 9 December 2016

In the news:

Vanguard - Lagos authorities made case for huge economic empowerment for women and eradication of FGC

Premium Times - 12 Osun communities declared their intentions to abandon FGC

Premium Times - According to UNFPA, Osun ranks highest in FGC prevalence in Nigeria with over 76.3%

The Eagle Online - High-Level Meeting on Eliminating FGC organised by the Hope for Women Initiative in collaboration with Action Health Incorporation in Lagos

The Guardian Nigeria - NGO's concerns over continued rise in FGC in south-west Nigeria

International Business Time - IBTimes UK interviews Nigerian journalist on how FGC impacted on her life

Reuters - Armed with mobile phones, young people across Nigeria are turning to social media to discuss and report cases of FGC in a country where a quarter of girls and women have been cut

The Guardian - About 20 million women and girls in Nigeria have undergone FGC, 10% of the global total, according to a new report released

All Africa - FGC practices have declined in Osun

PM News Nigeria - Osun's First Lady Mrs Sherifat Aregbesola commended by Girl-child Right Awareness Initiative in Africa for standing against FGC

The Nation - Osun's First Lady champions campaign against FGC

Premium Times - Ebonyi state government warns of five year jail term for anyone practicing FGC

Vanguard - Mrs Rachel Umahi, first lady of Ebonyi state, will collaborate with UNFPA to organise campaign against FGC for her Family Succour and Upliftment Programme in the state

All Africa - Vital discourse and cultural shift needed along with legislative action to stop FGC

All Africa - Female students at Ebonyi form social clubs to fight against FGC

Leadership - South West governors wives meet in Ekiti to tackle FGC in the region

NoFGM.org - 'Through the Eyes of Nigerian Artists Confronting FGM': An exhibition at University of Oxford, June 2016

Bella Naija - Girl Child Concern hosts dialogue on youth engagement

The Guardian Nigeria - Governor Ajimobi vows to end FGC, says 'Our government is out to protect all our children, regardless of the gender'

Premium Times - Former president Obasanjo calls for national legislation to end FGC

Nigeria Today - Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) calls for an end to FGC, including its medicalisation, highlighting the practice as detrimental to maternal health

All Africa - New report suggests that there are around 19.9 million Nigerian women who have been subject to FGC

All Africa - Women recounts her personal experience with FGC

All Africa - Working group of 8 is training boys on gender-based violence awareness

Punch - A second reading of the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill was reintroduced at the Nigerian Senate but thrown out once again, angering gender equality advocates

All Africa - National Coalition on Affirmative Action planning to help reintroduce Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill that was rejected by Nigerian government

Catholic Online - Nigerian Government officials uses religious rhetoric to block bill criminalising gender-based violence

All Africa - Nigeria working towards ending gender-based violence for good

The Guardian - Husband and wife working together to end FGC in Nigeria

Vanguard - Breaking the cycle of FGC

Pulse - Commissioner for Health working to eliminate practice of FGC

NAIJ - UN singles out Nigeria for the number of FGC cases that take place within the country

The Guardian - The ife of the President calls for action against FGC

The ugly experiences associated with the age-long practices in some states in the country of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) has led to the introduction of the subject as part of the curriculum in the teaching of nurses and doctors by the Nursing Council of Nigerian (NCN) and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN).

Nursing World Nigeria - Nursing Council of Nigeria (NCN) and Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) introduce course against FGC into medical curriculum

The Eagle - Law against practicing FGC does little to deter people from continuing  practice

Premium Times - Over 6 million women in South West Nigeria are victims of FGC

CBC News - Nigerian mother flees to protect her newborn triplets from FGC

The Eagle - Prof. Temidayo of University of Ilorin reveals that FGC is still a major challenge faced by rural women

All Africa -First Ladies lead campaign against FGC

All Africa -How to end FGC in Nigeria

News 24 Nigeria -Gov. Aregbesola calls for eradication of FGC

The Nation Online - The international day of the 2015 Girl Summit

This Day Live - Breaking the culture of FGC

All Africa –  FIDA worries over increase in violence against women

Family Post – Female lawyers worried over discriminatory practices against women

All AfricaUNICEF laments high prevalence of FGC in South East

NGR Guardian News – Lagos government will soon eradicate FGC

Nigerian Bulletin – UK judge saves three Nigerian girls from FGC

Amsterdam News – The director of the Africa Centre at the Atlantic Council and other individuals hopeful that Nigeria’s ground-breaking legislation will start a sweeping new trend of ending FGC across African continent

Take Part – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has officially left the office after making FGC illegal in Nigeria

The Huffington Post - Advocates say that making FGC illegal must be accompanied by community level engagement and empowerment to ensure true elimination

The Guardian - Nigeria's recent decision to make FGC illegal carries heavy weight, as it might persuade neighboring countries to act similarly

The Huffington Post - UK applauds Nigeria's landmark moment in decision to make FGC illegal

All Africa - Concerns that the recent law to ban FGC will not be upheld as many accept that the practice is entrenched within culture

Channels TV - President Goodluck Johnathon signed two bills recently passed by the National Assembly into law, one prohibits FGC

Premium Times - Nigerian Senate passes Violence Against Persons bill prohibiting FGC

Daily Times – Ogun to prosecute FGC cases

AllAfrica - Eradicate FGC, hope for the Nigerian child

All Africa - 150,000 Nigerian women for fistula operation

The Nigerian Observer - The Protocol On Women's Rights: Between practices and provisions

The Nigerian Observer - Expert cautions parents against FGC

The Guardian - Nigerian woman fears daughters' will face FGC, wins reprieve on deportation

AllAfrica - Ban cautions communities on harmful effects of FGC

Leadership - Over 125 million girls are victims

The Nigerian Observer - FGC causes infertility

Reuters - FGC campaigners say Nigerian ban welcome, but fight against FGC not over

Premium Times - Ogun appeals to traditional rulers to stop FGC menace

allAfrica – Woman lost two children to female genital cutting in Bayelsa

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