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Nigeria bans female genital mutilation

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Outgoing Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has taken the historic step of banning female genital mutilation, a move hailed by campaigners as “hugely important.” The law, which  also prohibits men from abandoning their wives or children without providing economic support, was passed by the Senate on May 5 and signed by Jonathan as one of his final acts as president, as his successor, Muhammadu Buhari, was sworn into office on Friday. According to 2014 U.N. data, about a quarter of Nigerian women have undergone FGM, which can cause infertility, maternal death, infections and the loss of sexual pleasure. The practice was already banned in some states, but now it will be outlawed throughout the country. As one of Africa’s cultural and political powerhouses, campaigners are hoping Nigeria will influence other African nations, where FGM is still legal and widely practiced. An estimated 125 million women and girls worldwide — mostly in Africa and the Middle East — are living with the consequences of FGM. While stressing the importance of this new law, campaigners also urged caution, saying it was crucial that not just laws, but also attitudes, had to change in order to bring an end to the practice.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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