Early May, outgoing Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan banned female genital mutilation (FGM) as one of his final acts as the leader of Nigeria.
This new ban will hopefully reduce the number of cases of infertility, loss of sexual pleasure, and a variety of other health complications related to the practice. The ban also prohibits men from abandoning their spouses and children without financial support. With Nigeria as a political and cultural leader in Africa, many advocates are hoping that this newly-passed law will inspire other African nations, where FGM is legal and a common cultural practice, to pursue similar forms of legislature.
The traditional belief that FGM will persuade girls to remain virgins until marriage or to remain faithful once wed, however, is still a widespread belief. While the act of FGM may now be illegal, it is feared that the ban will only cause an increase in the illegal act of removing a girl’s outer sexual organs. Time and effort must now be poured into changing cultural views that support violence against women.
Furthermore, while a large number of Western supporters of former President Jonathan’s ban are celebrating the outlawing of this violent practice, the war against similar acts of mutilation is certainly not over throughout the rest of the world.
The concept of intersex genital mutilation still runs rampant in large number of Western regions, such as North America and Europe. Intersex genital mutilation (IGM), or the act of surgically altering a newborn’s sexual organs to unambiguously male or female, is a common medical practice for children born with a combination of male and female sex organs.
However, pediatric genital surgeries ultimately police a child’s sexual and gender identity, and can have a number of medical complications for that child in the future that are often ignored in an lieu of “normalizing” a newborn’s body. Organizations such as the OII Intersex Network strive to educate people about the troubling medical practices and longstanding effects members of the intersex community endure and push for changes that will allow for members of the community to express themselves freely and healthily.
Hopefully, with a larger spotlight on female genital mutilation, attention will be brought to intersex genital mutilation and efforts to prevent nonconsensual genital surgery in the future.
To learn more about IGM and its effects, visit here.
Source: Catherine Hua, OnMogul