PAP Calls for Ban of FGM, Child Marriage

Here at Fab Feminist, we are suuuuuuuper great at reporting stories that are no longer breaking news. Today, for example, we started blogging about the Nigerian ban on female genital mutilation back in May.  DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS EVEN BIGGER NEWS THAN NIGERIA BANNING FGM??? THE PAN AFRICAN PARLIAMENT HAS ENDORSED THE BAN OF FGM. The advising body of ALL of Africa. The good news doesn't stop there, either; the endorsement also includes the ban of CHILD MARRIAGE!!! There are currently millions of child brides in south Africa alone, and if trends continue, this number will increase dramatically. We're going to break down why this is a HUGE DEAL, and we're also going to catch you up to speed on the PAP, which we knew nothing about until approximately 45 minutes ago.

FGM is a gruesome, dangerous, oppressive, and medically unnecessary process. It is female castration. It was banned in Nigeria by  President Goodluck Jonathan, who happens to have the COOLEST name ever. As described by UNICEF,

[FGM] is one of the most serious forms of violence against the girl child/woman and is practiced in Nigeria for a number of reasons:

• psychosexual: to attenuate sexual desire in the female, maintain chastity and virginity before marriage and fidelity during marriage, and increase male sexual pleasure.

• sociological: for identification with the cultural heritage, initiation of girls into womanhood, social integration and maintenance of social cohesion and social acceptance.

• hygiene and aesthetics: among some societies, the external female genitals are considered unclean and unsightly, and so are removed to promote hygiene and provide aesthetic appeal.

• religious: female genital mutilation is practiced in a number of communities, under the mistaken belief that it is demanded by certain religions.

• others: to enhance fertility and promote child survival, better marriage prospects and helps delivery of babies.
— http://www.unicef.org/nigeria/FGM_.pdf

It's a dangerous practice with soooooooo many serious health risks including pain during and after, difficulty urinating, cysts, hemorrhaging, HIV/AIDS and even death. In her 1999 study, Female Genital Mutilation: Complications and Risk of HIV Transmission, Margaret Brady references a study presented in 1998 that found that "97 percent of the time, the same equipment could be used on fifteen to twenty girls. The conclusion of the study was that the use of the same equipment facilitated HIV/AIDS/STD transmission." The study goes on to explain that FGM predisposes women and girls to HIV/AIDS through injuries during intercourse and the more frequent need for blood transfusions. This need could arise during the act of female circumcision, serious injury during intercourse, or during childbirth. 

This practice is incredibly widespread throughout Africa and parts of the Middle East, so naturally, it comes as a great relief that the Pan African Parliament has endorsed its ban. In case you're unfamiliar with the Pan African Parliament, it's a body of representatives that is part of the African Union. The African Union is comprised of all fifty-four African countries. An endorsed ban could mean the end to FMG and child marriages under the age of 16 in continental Africa. According to the Pan African Parliament's website, the body was formed "in order to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent." The PAP is actively working to "evolve into an institution with full legislative powers," but until then, "the Pan African Parliament shall have consultative and advisory powers within the AU." Inter Press Service News Agency has reported that "the PAP has setup a working group which will oversee the moves towards a similar law. The areas of priority include laws and legislation, engaging the community, mobilising resources, advocacy and implementing the plan at regional and national levels."

Hell. Yes. Africa. One giant step in the right direction for human rights and the rights of women and girls! #WhatIReallyReallyWant looks like it may be coming to fruition very, very soon.