The 7th Senate of Nigeria amidst the last batch of bills signed before it was dissolved passed the Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Bill which seeks to prohibit female circumcision or genital mutilation, forceful ejection from home and harmful widowhood practices.
Victor Ndoma-Egba, the erst-while leader of the 7th Senate sponsored the bill. It is also intended to eliminate violence in private and public life and provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims of violence, and punishment of offenders.
The bill forbids economic abuse, forced isolation and separation from family and friends, substance attack, depriving persons of their liberty, incest, among others. The bill also prohibits abandonment of spouse, children and other dependents without sustenance, battery and harmful traditional practices.
Female genital mutilation in Nigeria has raised dust worldwide as an unhealthy but common cultural practice. According to the World Health Organization, the health risks of the practice are numerous, and include heavy bleeding, developing sepsis, urinary tract infections, cysts and becoming infertile.
Female genital mutilation became a cultural practice as it was believed that cutting off the clitoris would make sex less desirable for girls, decreasing their libido and ensuring fidelity when married and abstinence for the unmarried.
Although some states have passed such bills into law before now, this move by the senate and former President Goodluck Jonathan has made this bill a national law.
It is left to law enforcement agencies, opinion builders, NGO’s and health care providers, media houses to propagate this law and embark on awareness campaigns to enlighten traditional holders of this belief about its dangers and the stance of the government against FGM and other violence against women.