Disclaimer: This dissertation has been written by a student and is not an example of our professional work, which you can see examples of here.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this dissertation are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKDiss.com.

FGM Within an International Human Rights Legal Frame work

Info: 8883 words (36 pages) Dissertation
Published: 10th Dec 2019

Reference this

Tagged: Human RightsHuman Rights Law

Chapter 3:  FGM Within an International Human Rights Legal Frame work

In the post- world war II era, the international treaties signed by various countries has been the most contemporal base for human rights. These treaties generally sought to establish standards thus recognizing the fundamental rights in admonition that such rights are duly respected by the respective governments that are signatories to the treaties. Hence human rights norms are developed within the standard set by various government in their own respective countries [1].

The fact is that these norms are developed by the national laws and policies which incorporates human rights principles that developed these norms, i.e. domestic law becoming an important tool for interpretation of international legal standards[2]. Regardless of this expansion of human right arms, as a way of addressing social issues, the means of enforcement has always been hugely problematic However, the United Nation in an attempt to create accountability within the International domain, has put in place procedures by which human rights conditions could be reported around the world. This UN system also set human rights standards, monitoring compliance thereby making recommendations to ensure human rights[3].

Chapter 3.1: Source of International Law


Article 38 (1) of Statute of ICJ provided widely definition of International law and thus stated as follows: The Court, whose function is to decide in accordance with the international law such disputes as are submitted to it shall apply; i. international conventions, whether general or establishing rules expressly recognized by contesting states, ii. international custom as evidence of a general practice accepted as law, iii. The general principles of law recognized by civilized nations, iv subject to the provisions of Article 59, judicial decisions and teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations, as subsidiary means of determining rules of law [4].

Therefore, the study looks at several International treaties, Regional human rights treaties and other Consensus documents put in place to drum support for protection of women/girls right to abandon the FGM practices. These international treaties include Convention against torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Regional treaties which include, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (known as Bangul Charter) and its Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

However, there are other Consensus documents such as Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women, General Assembly Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, and United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Commission on the Status of Women [5].

It is a known fact that violence against women is extremely widespread, which affects all parts of the world. No country is left out, even though the level of the maltreatment of women varies from one to another. Violence against women perceives no culture, age, race or ethnicity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948[6] is a landmark document in the history of Human rights, which for the first time set out fundamental human rights which are to be protected universally. The UDHR, although not a treaty, its provisions inspired numerous constitutions and treaties. The Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th of December 1948[7].  The declaration is part of the International Bill of Rights, which also includes the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its Optional Protocols.

Article 2 of the Declaration mentions that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made based on the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”[8].

Article 3 and 5 of the same Declaration supports this as it says that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” … “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”. The non-discrimination articles highlight that any form of violence against women which can be prescribed as a threat to her life, freedom or which constitutes torture or cruel inhuman treatment is not in keeping with the essence and importance of the UHDR, as a result, it is consequently a violation of the international obligations of the member states. The articles of the Declaration which have been cited above, even though they apply to every human being, can be considered as laws which is set at limiting the threat and constant occurrences of violence against women.

Kim v The State[9]1992, which was a case held in Nigeria, a Judicial Service Commissioner of the Federation named Nnaemeka Agu, cited the United Nations Declaration on Human rights “Though it is left for various member nations to determine which rights from the plethora of rights declared, they would wish to incorporate into their domestic laws, once incorporated, their application lose the character of insular isolationism. Rather, they assume a universal character in their standard of interpretation and application…”  This showed that once the Nigerian government ratifies an international instrument and passes the same within Nigeria’s national laws, it only then becomes enforceable.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW)[10] is one of the two conventions that most clearly contributes towards the protection of the rights of women and girls. CEDAW was brought into force in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, and is generally referred to as an International bill of rights for women.  It contains a preamble and 30 articles. CEDAW lays out what consists of discrimination against women and provides an agenda for national and local action to end such discrimination. The Convention defines discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.[11]

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) are multilateral treaties implemented by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966[12]. The treaties oblige its members to work towards the accepting of civil, economic, social, and cultural and political rights to the Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories and individuals, comprising of labour rights and the right to health and life, the right to education, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to an adequate standard of living.[13]

The ICCPR and ICESCR are noteworthy and keen in defending and safeguarding women from violence. Nigeria has ratified these two covenants sadly however; it has not domesticated nor incorporated them within its national laws. The effect of non-domestication is that no citizen of the nation can rely on them, even though they bind Nigeria under International law. In the same standpoint, the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC), which encompass the only codified prohibition on FGM in human rights laws. Article 24(3) of the CRC obliges countries to abolish any traditional practice that will endanger health of children. The scope of this article incorporates FGM into the term of harmful traditional practice (footnote).

On Regional framework, the article 4 of African Charter stated thus; ….”Human beings are inviolable. Every person shall be entitled to respect for life and for the intergrity of his person”. In furtherance to this, Article 5 of the same Charter states that “torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment shall be prohibited”. To that effect Article 16 purports as such that every African is entitle to the highest level of physical and mental health. From this declaration, it became clear that the FGM practices violates the terms of these Articles, because if women/girls are entitled to their highest level of health maintainance then this practice must be well-thought-out to be violating those right as enshrined in the Charter.

Chapter 3.2:  Nigeria’s Implementation and Incorporation of International law:

Even though Nigeria ratified so many treaties including the aforementioned treaties, those ratified treaties as a matter of fact are binding on Nigeria within the ambit of international law and as a result fall short to become part of her national law. The international law is supreme over the national law which the Article 13 of the international law commission’s Draft Declaration on the Rights and Duties of States 1949 states as follows; “Each state has the duty to carry out in good faith its obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law, and it may not invoke provisions of its constitution or its laws as an excuse for failure to perform this duty”[14].

This brings to light the International Law concepts of Jus Cogens and Erga Omnes[15].

In the scope and establishment of Jus Cogen, the Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties of 1969 provided in Article 53 thus; “A treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, its conflicts with the peremptory norms of general international law. For the purposes of convention, a peremptory norm general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of states as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of the general international law having the same character”[16]

However, interpretation of treaties could be difficult given that there is no equivalent established body of contract law in states legal system and because of this difficulty, the Vienna convention on law of Treaties (1969) strive to set out customary international law codes to govern treaties and other international agreements.

Having established the supremacy of the international law over the national law meaning that international treaties could only become national law if they are incorporated into the country’s legislation which is known as the doctrine of incorporation.  The question here is how does international law become national law? To answer this question, one will consider whether the national legal system of the country in question has a dualist or monist approach. For this study, Nigeria is a dualist country, meaning that international laws are not directly applied into its national constitution, unlike monist system where international law does not need to be translated hence a ratified international treaty is automatically incorporated into national law[17]. Most common-law countries follow this procedure and as such are known as dualist countries[18].

In terms of implementation of international treaties, states that ratified CEDAW have completely committed themselves to perform the measures, which are listed in the convention. It is important to highlight here that since 1985 Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Violence against Women, however, Nigeria has not domesticated the convention into its own laws. As mentioned in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly”[19] . This as a result legitimized the FGM cultural practice. So, having failed to incorporate these international laws into its domestic law in order to promote human rights and gender equality, what other alternative effort have they made in tackling gender inequality?



Chapter 4: National Gender Policy

The National Gender Policy as introduced by Nigerian government is to demonstrate its committed effort towards building a nation that is devoid of gender discrimination, as well as promoting a culture that guarantees and protects all including children. As stipulated in various chapter of this thesis, Nigeria as a member of the United Nations signed and ratified the various relevant international instruments such as treaties and conventions without reservation. These instruments require all member nations to set out all necessary mechanisms desired to eliminate gender discrimination in all forms thus ensuring equality and promoting the dignity of all women. Yet there remain problems of discrimination in state and national statues, as well as customary and religious laws respectively. It’s noteworthy that traditions and sexual stereotyping of social roles continue to affect the enjoyment of women rights especially in equal participation with men in terms of development.

Therefore, the National Gender Policy as introduced was meant to eliminate these discriminatory barriers. In terms of social change, the policy also seeks to equip stakeholders with necessary skills needed to achieve desired empowerment for citizens irrespective of their sexuality. For effective functioning and implementation of this policy, the Nigerian government introduced the National Gender Strategic Framework (NGSF). This will outline monitoring, explicit implementation as well as evaluation of guidelines meant to achieve measurable targets, enhancing accountability in terms of women empowerment and gender equality.

Having said that, the policy bring into line with numerous relevant regional and International instrument and protocols which includes the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), AU Solemn Declaration for Gender Eqaulity, New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) African Protocol on People’s Rights and the Rights of Women (APPRRW), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), International Conference on Population Development Plan of Action (ICPD PoA), and a wide range of other sectors.

The notion here is that Nigeria is challenged with values and as such was using the global instrument for the assessments of its achievements and progress, hence these instruments within themselves are standard raising tools that inform the system by which institution and policy function regarding the issues concerning gender equality as well as empowerment of women, hence concludes the then permanent secretary in the federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development thus;” as a nation and a ministry, we are challenged by values and we will use global standards as instruments to formulate and assess our progress and achievements”[20]

In furtherance to this, she stated that these regional and International instruments are goals in themselves as well as tools for levitation of standards and informing ways by which policy and institutions could work on the issues of gender equality, child protection and women empowerment.

(Footnote Dr Safiya Illiyasu Muhammad: Secretary Federal Ministry of women affairs and social development).

So, even with the existence of human right in Nigeria’s national constitutions, it continues to endure many obstacles in the areas of cultural and religious practices which has taken over the patriarchal societies thus pre-dating the regime of global human rights necessities. Apart from human rights debate, there are other issues that are intricately tied to the question of being a woman, especially within the areas of global and national development. Arguably, Nigeria and indeed many African countries remain extensive as regards to human right violation in areas of marriage, divorce, and inheritance because of co-existence of different statutory, religion and traditional system. Also, there are weak structures in terms of supporting litigation as well as implementing and report mechanisms for protocols[21].

Even with the existence of various legal provisions which include national, regional and international treaties/convention, Nigeria record is among countries with overall low in Gender Development Index (GDI) for countries. As a result, there are low participation of women in employment, politics, decision making and leadership. Instead they are faced with high rates of abuses, sexual harassment, marital rape, forced marriage, harmful cultural practices being directed to these women. So, with this marginalization of equal opportunity coupled with weak legislative structure to protect women girl’s right, development and economic sustainability continue to elude women, hence the overall devaluation of women in all socio-economic paradigm.

Therefore, the main rationale behind the National Gender Policy revolves around building a modest society free from discernment, harnessing the full potential of entire social groups irrespective of their conditions or sexual orientation, encouraging enjoyment of fundamental human rights and protection of health, economic, social and political well-being of all the citizenries in order to accomplish an unbiased economic growth. Developing an evidence based planning and governance system where human, social, financial and technological resources are efficiently and effectively implemented for sustainable development[22].

Enumerated below are the principles that underpin the Gender Policy.

  1. As an obligation to gender mainstream developmental approach towards achieving a strong economic reform programme through evident based plan and social transformation.
  2. To acknowledge gender problems as an impediment to achieving the national development goals, hence the requirement to review policies as well as implementation of modalities as stated in the National Gender Strategic Framework.
  3. To realize that an effective/result focused implementation policy demands a meaningful cooperation from all stakeholders.
  4.  To promote and protect human rights, fairness and social justice.

However, to achieve these core objectives of the National Gender Policy, certain strategies must be adopted which include:

  • Partnership, policy and programme reforms within the mainstreaming of gender concerns at all levels.
  •   Capacity building and Gender education in order to enhance a positive gender culture as well as   needed technical expertise
  •  Guarantee of respect for human right and gender justice through Legislative reforms.
  •  The enhancement of productivity and sustainable development, through economic reforms especially the one that addresses women and children need as well as other vulnerable groups.

Conversely, the supporting strategies to achieving these policy goals are through communication, information, data and research as well as Monitoring and Evaluation. With the endeavor to reach the Millennium Development Goals, the policy which is guided by national, regional and international instruments, is designed to accelerate progress as well as economic recovery towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). However, a holistic multi-sectoral approach is projected for application of these policies and for policy efficiency, solidification of existing organs of government is required with additional institutions and mechanisms proposed to improve the sectoral performance.

The expected problem to achieving the policy goals is moving from the policy recommendations to the actualization of its targets and goal.  And for the conceptual framework to be efficient, concerted effort is required from/among stakeholders.  Moreover, there is need for all-encompassing institutional reorganization together with an increased professionalism in order to meet the requirement of this policy document. The effectiveness of the policy strategies is contingent to a gender functional management system that requires fundamental action such as confronting patriarchy, political will, coordination, networking and mentoring as well as seeing gender a core value for transforming the Nigerian society.

Therefore, the National Gender Policy serves as a vehicle that will bring about such healthy and speedy development, through harnessing the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, which its establishment serves as a mainstream to achieving these developmental processes.

Chapter 4.1 Federal Ministry of women affairs in Nigeria

The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Nigeria was created as a response to the United Nations agreement to create an Institutional Mechanisms for the development of Women and Women matters. It is a result of efforts acknowledged through a Military Decree in 1989, which produced the National Commission for Women. This nevertheless was the idea which was brought forward by the wife of the then Head of State Late (Dr) Mrs Maryam Babangida.

The National Commission for Women, although it is identified as a Government organization, its activities were somewhat ad-hoc with no precise and sufficient budgetary distribution. Late (Dr) Mrs Maryam Babangida then dictated the speed of activities in the National Commission for Women with the formation of her Better Life Programme for Rural Women. The Commission for Women was advanced to a full-fledged Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in 1995, which suggested that Nigeria had accomplished one of the demanding areas of interest of the Beijing Platform for Action. The Ministries activities, again majorly influenced by the orders of the late (Dr) Mrs Maryam Babangida at that time, produced the pet project; the Family Support and Economic Advancement Programme that was orchestrated by Mrs Maryam Sani Abacha.

Indeed, like the, National Commission for Women, resource sharing in the form of monetary provision was very inadequate, hardly enough to pay staffs wages. Involvement by the Late (Dr) Mrs Maryam Babangida, programmes were mainly welfare in nature. It targeted Women for their immediate requirements without confronting the age-long problem of lack of gender integration awareness and competence into conventional development planning.  This arrangement produced a lot of Institution trustworthiness, which had a negative effect of the Women’s Ministry in many ways. For example, when the National Commission for Women was elevated to a Women’s Ministry, it was not really on the same level with other Ministries and consequently lacked the essential institutional uniqueness and resource base.

Further problems were the lack of satisfactory budget allocations and a recognized technical organization. The net effect of this credibility gap has been that the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is not seen as to be on par with the government outfit of other Ministries making its gender based mainstreaming effort even more problematic to chase. In line with the Government’s move and change agenda for better service delivery in the Country; the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development formed a clearer vision and mission statement which revolves around building an equal society that quarrantees access to opportunities in terms of social, wealth and economic diversification. This vision placed priority on protection children, the elderly and the disable; focussing on retention of key actors for the intergration of these group of people in the mainstream of national development process. The key mission of the Ministry is to serve as national vehicle in bringing about rapid development to Nigerian women, children as well as physically challenged, to the mainstream of their rights in the process of national development.  Therefore, the Ministry’s broad mandate is based on policy initiating guildlines as regards to gender equality both on national and international fronts.

With this in mind, it becomes imperative to explore through the functions of the Ministry of Women and Social Development, as this will help to evaluate what they have done well in the areas of tackling gender inequality and FGM. The Ministry have numerous functions but for the purpose of this thesis, attention would be focused mainly on the issues of FGM and gender equality. Their basic function stems from promoting the general welfare of women through enhancing their abilities in terms of realizing their potential in different areas of human endeavor[23] Another important function of the Ministry is the protection, development and participation right of children through promoting a multi-sectional programme synergy as enshrined in the child’s Right Act 2003 (CRA). Supporting the work of relevant civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working for the rights of Women and children.

Based on these set out goals and the rationale for creating this Ministry, the question here remains whether they (Ministry of Women Affairs) have achieved these goals? To answer this question this study will now evaluate in entirety the work done by the ministry assessing what they have done well and what else to be done.

Chapter 4.2: Analysis of the effectiveness of Women Affairs Ministry in Tackling FGM

In meeting up with the set out goals and standards as required by CEDAW, Beijing Platform, the Nigeria Women Affair Ministry and Social Development have done well in areas of awareness creating, advocacy and training. The awareness stem from campaigns geared towards sensitizing several communities about violence against women through the cultural practices of FGM. According to its report to UN secretary General’s independent study expert on violence against women/children, they raise this awareness through conducting several types of campaign ranging from tv programs, radio magazines programs, questionnaires and sensitization seminars/workshops[24].

Also according to the NGO report, the Women Affair Ministry for the past years have sponsored local NGO’s who have made seven-advocacy visitation to various traditional rulers and to four Co-coordinators of several primary health care in different communities of different states across Nigeria. The purpose of the visit according to them was to show their concern to several groups expressing their willingness to eradicate the cultural harmful practices of FGM.  In the same vein, they lamented the unwillingness of the Women Affair Ministry in lobbying for implementation of legislative framework that prohibit those FGM practices in different states of Nigeria. However, they maintained that the advocacy visits especially those traditional rulers were successful being that they are the masterminds and forerunner of many traditional practices in various communities.

In terms of training, the Women Affair Ministry through the local NGO had provided training of religious and community leaders in some of the states where the prevalence of FGM is high. In the NGO report to CEDAW, It stated that up to fifty religious and community leaders were trained[25]. The religion leaders comprise of Moslems, Christians and Animists of both sexes. The training also was extended to thirty member staffs of the Justice and Peace Development Commission (JPDC), being that they work in these communities. The training was channeled towards staff capacity building to the FGM mainstream among the target group, sensitizing secondary school teachers as well as students. Rallies were held in community squares, market place. Moreover, in maternity centers talks about FGM were delivered which led to change of attitude among some of the attendants and even the health worker who vowed to discontinue the cultural practice. Even the community and religious leaders after the training vow to discourage the practice within their respective communities.

However, having analyzed what seemed a lack-lustre successful work of the Women Affair Ministry, the ongoing practices of FGM within communities in Nigeria today goes to show that the Ministry have not fulfilled its potentials in terms of eliminating this cultural practice. Therefore, it is imperative to look at what they have not done well in order to seek a way forward to finally stopping the FGM practice. From the Periodic report of Nigeria government, it remains clear that the work/programme of Women Affair Ministry and local NGOs lacks the intercity needed to propel men and women in communities to desist form the practice. The Ministry should extend a total commitment towards educating all and sundry within all the communities in Nigeria rather than a section of religion/traditional ruler. This education will involve healthcare practioners, which include midwives and other traditional birth assistants who witness the direct consequences of FGM during birth.

In terms of legislation banning FGM, the Women Affair Ministry is not doing enough in lobbying for passage of legislation that would ban FGM cultural practice, they should pull more weight towards effective implementation of the law as regards to FGM as well as proper training of judges and law enforcement personnel. On issues concerning women empowerment, the ministry should pressure Nigeria government into promoting girl-child education in all level. In this way women/girls would understand the the harmful implication of this cultural practice. Another important undoing of the Women Affair Ministry is their failure to evaluate and monitor implementation of FGM prevention nationwide. They depend on the local NGO who most of the time lack the needed fund required for training and educating various community about the consequences of the FGM practices.

Chapter 4,1: Recommendation

This thesis has argued the discourse concerning women’s right which has evolved, just as scholarly positions. So, negotiating between groups right and human right seems to be the most controversial position within this study. Hence the study established concerns about complicated efforts towards eradication of FGM. The essay further demonstrates how the promotion of women’s rights has been a concern based on the complexity that ensued towards the effort of promoting these rights. Based on illustration drawn from domestic violence discourse regarding FGM, this essay had deliberated on the question of how moral universalism and cultural relativism encouraged a reconciled dilemma especially among the people in developed countries who are living with the FGM practice. Religious values undoubtedly have become a contributing factor to the dilemma and as the argument lingers, it became apparent the need for multiculturalism and cultural diversification call which is relevant for the invigoration of valuable lost cultural heritage. Each position in this instance notably could have some moral implications in terms of women’s rights.

However, several pieces of literature in this study had argued the importance of resolving this impasse through cultural universals, hence respecting the claims of right or arguments that favor both situations. As highlighted, the issues of intersectionality as well as social change revolves around the intersection of social identities together with values that influence the rights. Central to this on-going discourse is the need to understand the role of diversity in our pluralistic and global world. Hence the importance of acknowledging group rights while embracing human rights which according to some scholars and human rights advocates, argued that while a certain cultural difference is accepted appreciated, embraced and encouraged, the only way forward will be to reconcile through cross- cultural universals because culture/religion shouldn’t be used as a cover that undermines human rights.

Therefore, to affirm human rights within a cultural diversified context, it is vital that reconciliatory efforts be made both locally and internationally, if the women in every cultural community are to fight domestic violence especially the ones which its values are culturally legitimized. Women’s right under any circumstance should not be allowed to be undermined by political correctness. In order to affirm human rights and promote cultural appraisal, it is particularly important for leaders to consider addressing those values that legitimize violence. Because a reflection on those values and policies would be a step in right direction towards protection of women’s right. This however would involve a faith-based organization in desacralizing traditions or teachings that embrace violence, serving as a necessary tool that completely delinks violation of human rights.



The issue of eliminating violence against women /female genital mutilation deserves a broad-based attention as well as a long-lasting commitment. It could well be seen from experience and from several studies that for over the past decades there has never been a fast or easy solution to this problem. To eliminate this cultural practice of female genital mutilation, there’s need for a solid and holistic approach in areas such of education and enlightenment as regards to cultural rights and individual. This kind of approach within these practicing communities can support a successful behavior transformation thus addressing the core values as well as the enforcement tools that have maintained the practice. By so doing, a greater success would be achieved in creating awareness of FGM abuse rather than concentrating in changing the participant’s behaviour.

Empowering education would be another valid action plan as it will help the people to assess their cultural values and beliefs in a more dynamic open manner. Education should start from grass root (ie primary school level) where children will be told about implication and health hazardness of this cultural practice as well as the need for them to have a say in what happens to their body. This would not only inform new knowledge in them but provide a forum for participants to share their cultural FGM experience regarding their complex inner feelings as well as conflicting cultural attitudes. This educational empowerment can involve various forms training which includes literacy training as well as analytical skills of problem solving. To achieve this successfully, Nigeria government should embark on a special training programme that will educate teachers more about cultural/Human rights, FGM and its complication. The teachers will then educate the children in what will be seen as a classroom-based enlightenment campaign with provision in the areas of human rights, cultural rights, religion sexual and reproductive health in general. This will be incorporated in every school’s academic curriculum.

The problem with this recommendation would be inability of the Nigeria government to source out funds to execute the training programme. It could be suggested for them to lean unto the international community, namely USA or Europe for loan, but what about the stringent loan condition that is always attached by the lending countries? Also with Nigeria ‘s poor corruption record, even when the loan or aid is given by the international communities, the funds are easily diverted to the corrupt official’s individual and personal bank accounts. Therefore, finding answers to the problems of this recommendation will be seen as a welcome development and a step in the right direction hence will offer a well-grounded education that will affect the necessitated changes on the cultural and human rights discourse of FGM practice.

Being that FGM is exclusively a consequence of gender base discrimination, empowerment of women could play an important role towards the eradication of the practice. To support this assertion, it is plausible to note that some improvement has been made by Nigeria government in the direction of women empowerment hence the previous government had over 35% of women in its executive cabinet. Also for the very first time in Nigeria’s history in 2012, saw the appointment of a woman as the Chief Justice of the federation.  To this effect its has been an issue of concern as one could easily see the unutilized potential of women/girls as evidenced in Liberia when Ellen Sirleaf become the first woman to be elected as African head of state in 2006. To follow suit, Kenya in seeking to remedy exclusion of women passed new constitution in 2010, providing powerful structures that will address gender inequality and encourage women’s full participation in areas of development and growth. Nigeria emulated this trends but from the present government’s point of view, women has been overlooked within the polity, a feat that discourages empowerment.

It is worth mentioning that by focusing on debates and education, it will be reasonable to convey to the forefront the issue concerning the rights of girls and women and the idiosyncratic treatment of male and females regarding their roles and positions in society especially in respect to Female Genital Mutilation. This notion could as well help in the oscillation of gender relations and therefore accelerate the abandonment of this cultural practice. Any mechanisms that would foster economic empowerment of women is expected to contribute to their progress. Hence, this can also provide encouragements that will change the structures of traditional behavior, to which women are bound to as dependents of the household, or even a situation where women are losing traditional right of entry to economic gain as well as its supplementary power. Positive employment empowers women in various circles of their lives, this include influences in the area of education, health, sexual health choices and reproductive.

For the fact that the practice has been around for thousands of years and thus, people’s perception, understandings and desire to continue with the practice will not disappear overnight. This belief has triggered the debate on whether the practice will continue to flourish regardless of its illegality and prohibition. Therefore, permitting qualified and trained professionals to carry out the procedure in a hygienic and sterilized conditions using an anesthetic would be the safer way to indulge in the practice. However, the worry here stems from the fact that consenting medical professionals to carry out the procedure somehow encourages indulgence thus legalizes the practice and continuation of the tradition. For this recommendation to be successful, laws should be legislated targeting the unqualified medical personnel who undauntedly carry out the procedure remotely in a non-standardized medical setting. The point here is that this recommendation could suggestively inspire continuation of the FGM cultural practice, but at least it would create a shift from mutilation to a more enhanced cosmetologically surgery which is widely accepted. Undoubtedly people deserve the right to practice its culture as enshrined in several UN treaty documents, but rejected those practices that cause harm or serious health consequences such as FGM.

Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation will surely encompass campaigns that will be designed towards enlightening the masses in a massive scale as well as imposition of tough consequences for those committing the practice. Several activists such as Waris Dirie, a victim of FGM, and a vocal campaigner against FGM procedure comprehends that culture and traditions are metaphor that cannot not easily be deserted. She indicated that “educating communities is very difficult as people are very stubborn and not willing to change their habits even if it is against humanity,”[26] however, even with that declaration, there is still need to have widespread informative campaigns and monetary funding provided for the females fleeing the practice. From Nigeria perspective, it is a horrendous and an overwhelming task given the pervasive rate and cultural diversification of the country. So it can be contended that education could be seen as the way forward hence a good education will definitely safe-guard a girl’s virtue rather than cutting her genitals all in the name of culture.

Culture and tradition could fundamentally have been established as significant feature of any given society as far as shaping the views and social behavior patterns of the said society. Therefore, some cultures and traditional beliefs as well as practices such as FGM are known to be harmful and as such must be abolished. To tackle this deeply rooted mythological practice, a holistic multidisciplinary method is needed. To start with, there is need for the implementation of legislation (Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015) in Nigeria. With this in mind, then come the emancipation of girls/women in the areas of health education. There should be a progression in social change within communities which will collectively coordinate commitment towards abandoning the primitive procedure. This “community-led action” is subsequently crucial. By educating women, affording support to those who endured the FGM process, through understanding the brutal consequences, this approach will dissuade coming generation from indulgence irrespective of their respective cultural affiliation, having been adequately enlightened.

To support this view, it could be recalled that the cultural practice of tribal marks has been eradicated in Nigeria given that modern generation in many communities across Nigeria found it to be a needless harmful practice hence discontinuing this cultural practice. In this regard, enlightenment and education played a very significant role, as the modern educated generation refused to transferring this cultural practice to the next generation and consequentially brought to an end to this practice.

So, it is safe to state that when a woman is informed, socially and economically active, wth a little bit of education, she will be able to understand and acknowledge the danger that associates with a harm cultural practice of circumcision as well as its irrelevancy. Such stand would consequently deter her from conformity in this cultural practice irrespective of how the tradition is being celebrated. Based on this premise, she will resist any pressure of carrying out the procedure on her daughters knowing how detrimental the practice is to women/girls.   In addition to this, empowering of NGOs through reasonable funding and training could be yet another valid solution. This could be achieved through various international organizations both directly and/or indirectly by means of appealing to state parties to create budgetary allocations that will guarantee the implementation of the strategic project.

One of the essential purposes of this dissertation is to find and as well recommend strategic interventions to tackle cultural prejudiced gender based violence of FGM. It is imperative to state that due to the socio-cultural nature of FGM, there is need for assurances from Nigerian communities as well as governments in making sure that there is an end to this practice. To this end, having cross-sectoral programs is necessary, as it will create an enabling environment that encourages awareness creating which is vital to the success of eradicating FGM. In furtherance to this, extra efforts should be directed in the areas of promotion and encouragement of behavioral change aimed at achieving an abandonment of this atrocious practice of FGM in its cultural perspective. However, any strategic emphasis should be on interventions for behavioral change that is preserved with the ideas that focuses on the individuals based on their life style choices. Furthermore, a lot can be achieved by exploring through all the mechanisms as provided by the applicable covenants.

Furthermore, the NGO’s engagement in various communities is very essential as they should work in collaboration with different traditional and religious institutions ensuring that there is a proper re-orientation of attitudes and beliefs towards the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. They also should arrange relevant alternatives to this perceived belief, likewise working with educational institutions within the affected communities educating the young ones about the consequences of FGM procedure. In terms of strengthening of legislation, Nigeria should be encouraged to incorporate international and regional piece of legislation into its domestic laws. For example, Nigeria there has already law, which prohibits the act, but the question remains on how effective are those laws and how are they enforced by the criminal justice system? Its notes worthy that Nigeria criminal justice department is dilapidated lacking credible investigative logistics as well as under trained investigative personnel and corrupt officials. Indeed, a lot of work still needs to be done in training, educating law enforcement agencies, as this will encourage accountability in the area of promoting human rights.

In the areas of achieving sustainable development for women, eradication of FGM could be achieved through strengthening actions on poverty reduction, especially in investing on social development programmes in different local community as this would promote gender equality as well as women/girl rights. Consequently, world bank report claimed that the cultural practice of FGM is an impediment to social and economic development in the practicing country[27]. In order to drive positive change in the well-being of citizens, access to health care becomes necessary especially when focussing on productivity of a country. In human capacity development, the quality and quantity of education and health services matters greatly, hence they contribute to country’s overall growth and quality of life of its entire citizenry[28]. To this end, one can see that these components of social development such as health, gender equality and education are all relevant to developmental discourse, international poverty trends and Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agendas.


[1] Frank Newman & David Weissbrodt,

International Human Rights Law, ,

Policy and Process 23 (2d ed. 1996);

[2] Ibid

[3] ibid

[4] Steiner & Alston

[5] Resolution on Ending Female Genital Mutilation. E/CN.6/2007/L.3/Rev.1


[7] Wwwunorg, ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (Wwwunorg, 2016) <http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/> accessed 7th April 2017

[8] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Article 2

[9] Kim v. State (1992) NWLR (Pt. 233)17

[10] Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW), Article 1

[11] Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW), Article 1

[12] UN General Assembly, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966

[13] Simmons, B. A. (2009). Mobilizing for human rights: international law in domestic politics. Cambridge University Press.

[14] International Law Commission at its first session in 1949 and submitted to the General Assembly as part of the Commission’s report covering the work of that session. The report which also contains commentaries and Observations on the draft declaration, appears in Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1949 annex to General Assembly resolution 375 (IV) of 6th December 1949.

[15] Anthony Cassese: The hierarchy of Rules in International Law: the Role of Jus Cogens. Chap.11 (p.198) International Law (2nd edition).

[16] Article 53, Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties of 1969.

[17] Stein & Alston

[18] Ibid n30

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 s. 12(1)

[20] Dr Safiya Illiyasu Muhammad: Secretary Federal Ministry of women affairs and social development.

[21] National Gender Policy 2006: F7).

[22] Ibid

[23] Ministry of Women Affairs). Another important function of the Ministry is the protection, development and participation right of children through promoting a multi-sectional programme synergy as enshrined in the child’s Right Act 2003 (CRA)

[24] Reports on UN Secretary General’s independent study expert on violence against women/children

[25] Women Affair Ministry Annual Report 2006.

[26] The guardian , ” (How supermodel Waris Dirie saved girl from female genital mutilation, ) <http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/16/supermodel-waris-dirie-female-genital-mutilation-fgm> accessed 8 October 2016

[27] Rogo et al. : Female Genital Cutting, Women’s Health and Development 2007, Journal , with Subayi Toubia

[28] United Nation Research Institute for Social Development UNRISD, 2010: Pg 161-162

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

Related Content

All Tags

Content relating to: "Human Rights Law"

Human Rights are protected by international law. Human Rights are the rights and principles that each and every individual is entitled to throughout their life.

Related Articles

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this dissertation and no longer wish to have your work published on the UKDiss.com website then please: