The Nigerian Senate a fortnight ago the passed Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Bill which, among other things, seeks to prohibit female circumcision or genital mutilation, forceful ejection from home and harmful widowhood practices. The Bill, which was sponsored by the Leader of the Senate, Victor Ndoma-Egba also intends to eliminate violence in private and public life and provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims of violence, and punishment of offenders.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the session, said that the passage of the bill would provide adequate protection for the vulnerable in the society and punish those who take advantage of them. He commended the senators and other stakeholders for their efforts in ensuring that the bill was passed, adding that it was a good step in the fight against violence in the society. In the country, however, only seven out of the 36 states have passed the anti-circumcision bill. Nonetheless, it is coming two years on December 20 2012 after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution banning the practice of female circumcision.
The resolution urges countries to condemn all harmful practices that affect women and girls, in particular, female circumcision, and to take all necessary measures, including enforcing legislation, awareness-raising and allocating sufficient resources to protect women and girls from this form of violence. It calls for special attention to protect and support women and girls who have been subjected to female genital mutilations, and those at risk, including refugee women and women migrants. As of 2010, 19 African countries have fully enacted laws against the practice But the circumcision practice abolished by the Nigerian Senate has nothing to do with the male specie but female in Nigeria.
However, some people are of the view that despite the ban, there are some culturally inclined traditional people who would still continue to practice the act secretly as they may consider the ban as a threat to their cherished traditional practice. In other words unless there is commitment to enforce the bill, practitioners of female genital mutilation will still be having a field day Mrs. Johnson Otarobuko, a woman of Delta State origin is one of such persons.
According to her “Government is free to pass any law it likes, but the traditional people know their culture and what is good for them. Nobody can dictate to us what we think is good for our children and culture.” Another respondent on the issue, Mrs. Loveth Nwachukwu however holds a different opinion. She said “Female circumcision is a very painful act. Cutting the clitoris, which is the most sensitive part of the female reproductive organ, is too dangerous especially when it is done by a quack. “I support the law banning it from our traditional practices.
There are many circumcised ladies out there that are not responsive to sexual interaction with the opposite sex because what stimulates their urge as female to mate with their mates has been destroyed by the removal of their clitoris in the name of culture.” Mr. Jolayomi Kehinde, a male respondent, is sympathetic to Otaruboko’s position.
He said “If some parents decide to be circumcising their female children at any time they deemed fit, I don’t think it is anybody’s business. They own their children and not the government. Does the government know how they cater for their children? What is their business that some people from a particular culture or traditional background circumcise their females?
Is that the most pressing problem or challenge we have in the country today? “I think they should stop chasing shadows and face more important issues like availability of steady electric power supply. They should abolish the importation of generators too. Generators have been burning houses and are killing a lot of people and wasting businesses than female circumcision in the country.”
The Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Elizabeth Sonubi is of the opinion that that practice should be stopped. At a recent workshop in Abeokuta, Ogun State, she sought collaboration with community and opinion leaders in the state and neighboring Lagos State, stating that going by the World Health Organisation estimates, over 140 million women and girls around the world experienced different forms of harmful practices like genital mutilation. Sonubi complained that such crude method is still being practiced in some parts of the state and over 28 countries of the world. She said female genital mutilation remains predominantly high because of the erroneous cultural belief that it can reduce libido and waywardness of girls during adolescence. She called for all hands to be on deck in order to stop this harmful practice. “We are calling on all community leaders, Baales and chiefs to help in spreading the good news. We are saying no to violence against women, no to female genital mutilation, we have to put an end to maternal mortality. This is the time we are saying women should have privilege of womanhood and their rights exercised,” she stated. – According to Forward, a United Kingdom based outreach for safeguarding right and unity, “Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (WHO).
It is also sometimes referred to as female genital cutting or female circumcision. There are no health benefits to FGM and it is recognised internationally as a human rights violation.” According to UNICEF, Nigeria once had the highest absolute number of cases in the world, which amounted to about a quarter of the estimated 115-130 circumcised women in the world.
With the banning of the female genital mutilation by the Nigerian Senate, there is no doubt that several arguments would continue to crop up against or in support of it especially when people who keep practicing the act are caught and made to face the law.
Based on archival records, the severity of female circumcision depends on which of these operations are performed (as well as how roughly), and it is true that the most extreme forms (involving the amputation of the external genitalia, with or without infibulation) are significantly worse than even the most radical foreskin amputation. But it should be remembered that the most extreme forms of FGM are rare, and that male circumcision in general is far more common on a world scale than female: about 13 million boys, compared with two million girls annually.
On top of this, it should be appreciated that the effects of male circumcision are also highly unpredictable, depending on how much penile tissue is removed, on the skill of the surgeon, on the precise configuration of penile blood vessels and nerve networks, and on the eventual size attained by the penis at puberty and maturity. The more tissue excised, the greater the damage to the penis, the greater the effect on sexual functioning and capability; the same quantity of tissue lost will be worse in cases where the penis is programmed to grow larger in maturity, or where the location of blood vessels and nerves (always variable) means that important connections are severed.
Because the slack tissue is needed to accommodate the enlarged penis when tumescent, a really severe circumcision will make erections painful or even impossible. Yet, male circumcision is not considered by the Nigerian Senate as a dangerous act like that of the female. From the foregoing, it could be said that it is an act usually carried out on male from time immemorial. But along the line of human development, females became also involved in the act.
The positions of the world’s major medical organizations range from considering neonatal circumcision as having no benefit and significant risks to having a modest health benefit that outweighs small risks. No major medical organization recommends either universal circumcision for all infant males (aside from the recommendations of the World Health Organization for parts of Africa), or banning the procedure. Ethical and legal questions regarding informed consent and autonomy have been raised over non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision.