Nigeria bans female genital mutilation, women’s rights heard more than ever
Equal pay, reproductive rights, health care and equal opportunity are just a few things that women’s rights activists strive to bring attention to and change.
That same fight hit a milestone May 5 when Nigeria passed a law banning female genital mutilation, or FGM, “which involves removing part or all of a girl’s outer sexual organs,” according to The Guardian.
The ban on FGM is not just a ban, but rather a life changing piece of legislation that speaks volumes. Millions of women in third world countries undergo sexual and physical violence on a daily basis.
FGM is “recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women,” according to the World Health Organization.
Nigeria is “the most populous country in Africa … (and) around a quarter of Nigerian women have undergone FGM.”
When women have this procedure, they are not only scarred emotionally and psychologically, but they are left unable to enjoy sexual intercourse for the remainder of their lives.
And FGM affects not only the safety of the women it is practiced on, but often times the children the women bear.
“Female mutilation was all about exerting power over women. It took away their sexuality, it made giving birth a dangerous task, and it was simply put in place for the pleasure of men,” said Erica Petersen, 20, a human development and family studies junior.
This ban is one piece in a puzzle to giving women the rights back over their own bodies and lives.
While some people disagree with the term feminism, and the different connotations that the word can stand for, the new law is a global breakthrough for women’s reproductive and sexual rights.
Out of the 125 million worldwide who have had the procedure, Nigerians obviously make up a large portion. As such, the law is a landmark decision.
“Campaigners … hope it will have a knock-on effect in other African nations where FGM is still legal and widely practiced,” according to The Guardian.
With the huge presence of social media, the fight for women’s rights is being heard now more than ever, especially in remote places of the world.
Women’s rights don’t just affect women, they affect everyone involved. It’s a global matter of human rights.
Banning FGM not only gives the women of Nigeria an equal advantage, but a voice and decision over their own bodies, a sense of empowerment. The world can look forward to seeing women grasp power for themselves and fight for their place in the world.
Nigeria is helping women do just that, one small ban at a time.
“Women are finally in control of their own bodies,” said Petersen. “If you notice, that argument is still one that we fight for in the U.S. with reproductive rights.”
Opinion columnist Hannah Endicott is an education junior and can be reached at [email protected]