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History In The Making! Female Genital Mutilation Has Been Banned In Nigeria!

One of the world's most profound human rights violations is the act of female genital mutilation. The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act of 2015 in Nigeria, recently signed by president Goodluck Jonathan, puts a swift end to FGM and also prevents men from leaving their families without paying financial support.

FGM, which rights and public health groups have campaigned against vigorously, is the act of removing parts or all of a girl's genitalia, often at a very young age and without any kind of consent. This procedure has led to severe health problems in some of the women effected.

“More than 130 million girls and women have experienced FGM/C in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is most common," says UNICEF.

But community action, activism, and a number of campaigns in Nigeria and elsewhere are helping bring a swift end to the practice. UNICEF recently reported that teenage girls are now one third less likely to undergo FGM today as they were 30 years ago.

“It is crucial that we scale up efforts to change traditional cultural views that underpin violence against women,” wrote Stella Mukasa, the director of Gender, Violence and Rights at the International center for Research on Women, in an article for The Guardian. “Only then will this harmful practice be eliminated.”

Women are cautiously optimistic in the wake of President Jonathan's decision, but they fear that this legislation won't be enough to end the practice.

“We welcome this ban as we welcome any ban on FGM, in any country,” Tarah Demant, senior director for Amnesty International USA’s identity and discrimination unit. “But it’s unclear whether other countries will do the same.”

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