Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The Nigerian law doesn’t clearly define FGM.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) does not specifically refer to violence against women and girls, harmful traditional practices or FGM; Section 34(1) provides that every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of their person and, accordingly, no one ‘shall be subject to torture, or to inhuman or degrading treatment.
The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 (VAPP Act) seems to be the only law to criminalise FGM but it does not provide a clear definition of FGM; Section 6(1) of the law opens with the simple statement, ‘The circumcision or genital mutilation of the girl child or woman is hereby prohibited.’
Section 6(2) criminalises and punishes anyone who performs, or engages another to perform, female circumcision or genital mutilation.
Section 6(3) criminalises and punishes anyone who attempts to perform, or engage another to perform, the practice.
Finally, Section 6(4) criminalises and punishes those who incite, aid, abet or counsel another to perform or attempt to perform FGM.
*Orientation of pregnant women.
*Sensitization and awareness of the general public.
*Women given birth in a licensed hospital or Medical centers
Penalty: (State applicable laws and jurisdiction)
The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Acts which has been domesticated by some states in Nigeria such as Ondo, Oyo, Edo, etc has provided the following criminal penalties against anyone found guilty of the offence:
*The performance of Female Genital Mutilation or engagement of another to perform FGM carries a punishment of imprisonment not exceeding four years or a fine not exceeding 200,000.00 Naira (US$554.808), or both.
Also, attempting to perform FGM or engaging another to perform FGM carries a punishment of imprisonment not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding 100,000.00 Naira (US$277.309), or both.
Anyone who incites, aids, abets, or counsels another person to perform FGM or engage another to perform FGM is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding 100,000.00 Naira (US$277.3010), or both.
Some individual states set out their own penalties for FGM. For example:
*Cross Rivers state – The Girl-Child Marriages and Female Circumcision (Prohibition) Law (2000), Section 4 sets out that any person who performs FGM, offers herself for FGM, coerces, entices or induces another to undergo FGM or allows any female who is either a daughter or ward to undergo FGM is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than 10,000 Naira (US$27.7011) or to imprisonment not exceeding two years for a first offender (and to imprisonment not exceeding three years without an option of fine for each subsequent offence).
*Ebonyi state – Following introduction of the VAPP Act, it brought in a five-year prison sentence for anyone who carries out FGM.
*Edo state – The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Law (1999) sets out the penalty for performing FGM as not less than three years’ imprisonment or a fine of not less than 3,000 Naira(US$8.3012) or both.
*Rivers state – The Child Rights Act (2009), Section 25 sets out that any person who directly or indirectly causes a female child to be subjected to FGM is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 50,000 Naira (US$138.6014) or imprisonment for a term of one year, or both.
Punishments for medical malpractice under the Medical Act (2004), Section 16(2) include being struck off the relevant professional register or from practice for a period not exceeding six months.
A person who commits an offence regarding the removal of tissue under the National Health Act 2014 will be punished under Section 48(3)(a) with a fine of 1,000,000 Naira (US$2,77315) or imprisonment of not less than two years, or both.