According to @WHO, the term “Female Genital Mutilation” refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

There are 4 Types of female genital mutilation

Type I: 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 prepuce.

Type II: 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.

Type III: 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 labia majora.

Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

FGM of any type is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM is known to be harmful to girls and women in many ways. The removal of or damage to healthy, normal genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and causes several immediate and long-term physical, psychological and sexual consequences.

Although FGM is a harmful traditional practice, those who subject their daughters to the practice include those that are educated, as well as those that are not.

IN some communities, there is a belief that if FGM is not done, the girl will become promiscuous and will not be able to get married. However, these are just beliefs and have no scientific backing.

The Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2013) revealed that Five states (Osun, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo and Oyo), have recorded high prevalence rates of FGM with more than 60 percent.

Osun and Ebonyi States have the highest at 77 percent and 74 percent respectively, according to National Demographic and Health Survey 2013.

Currently, there is a federal law in Nigeria called Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) (VAPP) Act 2015, which has provisions against FGM.

On 30th April 2018, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr Dave Umahi, signed the Ebonyi State Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law, 2018, which also has provisions against FGM.

There is need for policymakers, traditional and religious leaders to ensure that the Ebonyi State VAPP Law is disseminated and implemented.

Earlier, the Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi had ordered that copies of the law be distributed to presidents of town unions, local government chairmen and councillors to help in propagating it in their areas.

It is also very vital that young persons are also educated on the hazards of FGM, as well as the provisions of the law against.

The Ebony State VAPP Law 2018 covers issues such as FGM, rape, abandonment of dependants, child labour, stalking, spouses battering and others.

According to the Ebonyi State VAPP Law 2018, Harmful traditional Practices means all traditional behaviour, attitude or practices, which negatively affect the fundamental rights of women or girls,  or any person and includes harmful widowhood practices, denial of inheritance or succession rights, female genital mutilation or female circumcision, forced marriage and forced isolation from family and friends;

Section 26 and 27 of the Ebonyi State VAPP Law 2018 also captures the various punishments engaging in harmful traditional practices including FGM that offenders are liable to.

In Sub-section 1 of Section 26, “A person who carries out harmful traditional practices on anther commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not less than 3 years and not exceeding 5 years or to a fine not less than #300,000 not exceeding #500,000 or both”.

In Sub-section 2 of section 26, A person who attempts to commit the act of violence provided for in subsection (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not less than 2 years or to a fine not less than #200,000 and not exceeding #300,000 or both”.

In sub-section 3 of section 26, “A person who incites, aids, abets or counsels another person to commit the act of violence as provided for in subsection (1) of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not less than 1 year and not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not less than #200,000 and not exceeding #300,000 or both”.

In sub-section 4, “A person who receives or assists another who, to his or her knowledge, committed the offence provided for in subsection(1) of this section is an accessory after the fact and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not less that 1 year and not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not less than #100,000 and not exceeding #200,000 or both”.

SECTION 27 captures punishments for offences surrounding attacks with harmful substances.

In Subsection 1 of section 27 – “A person who uses chemical, biological or any other harmful liquid on another commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment without an option of fine”.

In Subsection 2 of section 27 – “A person who attempts to commit the act of violence described in subsection (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not less that 10 years and not exceeding 25 years without an option of fine”.

In Subsection 3 of section 27 – “A person who incites, aids, abets or counsels another person to commit the act of violence as provided for in subsection (1) of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of 25 years without an option of fine”.

In Subsection 4 of section 27 – “A person who receives or assists another who, to his or her knowledge, committed the offence provided for in subsection (1) of this section is an accessory after the fact and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of 25 years without the option of fine”.

Having shared the stand of the Ebonyi State VAPP Law 2018, we also understand that this law will be dormant if they are not implemented.

Hence, there is a need to further engage the judiciary and the security agencies towards the enforcement of these laws to avoid having them as just virtual accomplishments.

There is a need to also train the personnel in the judiciary and the security agencies on the provisions of the law.

The police, Civil Defence and Nigerian Prisons must be alerted towards this urgent call to prosecute every offender of this harmful practice.

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