Nigeria has the highest number of cases of female genital mutilation in the world.
But it has just made history by banning the practice.
Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan passed the law just before leaving office – something he had apparently wanted to do for some time, but refrained from doing so due to political pressure.
A lot of authors have written about how this is good news, but ...
- They note how there are still 130 million women and girls out there who have suffered from female genital mutilation.
- They highlight the 3 million girls who are at risk of mutilation each year.
- They talk about how the law is not enough, and that only cultural change can really eradicate the practice.
Stella Mukasa, director of Gender, Violence and Rights at the International Center for Research on Women, wrote in the The Guardian “It is crucial that we scale up efforts to change traditional cultural views that underpin violence against women. Only then will this harmful practice be eliminated.”
She’s right. It’s all the more pressing given that we are now approaching summer and soon the infamous “cutting season” will begin, in which young girls in the UK and other countries are flown out to their countries of origin during the summer holidays to get mutilated.
Although there is always a “but,” we also need to relish the moment. Take joy in seeing a positive change that has taken place in the world – a law passed and an outrage banned.
It won’t eradicate FGM on its own. But it’s a step in the right direction. Changing the world isn’t about pushing a button or writing a law and making everything perfect.
What it is about is making gradual change, one step at a time.
And this is a big step.
So celebrate, because we’re winning.