Protection against violence bill, female circumcision and the Quran



The inconsistency and incoherence that characterizes the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria is appalling not only to the ordinary Nigerians but also to the religious scholars. The lawmaking process in Nigeria continues to throw up confusing and contradictory laws. This is apparent in the recently passed bill that criminalises female genital mutilation without any clarification on the status of female circumcision.


It is acknowledged that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has allowed each citizen of the country the freedom to practice his or her religion without any interference whatsoever. But the scene of the new bill abolishing female circumcision, as some have argued, will be in vain with respect to some religious rites, Islam inclusive. 

Human rights violation is endemic, dislodging the constitutional ego of individual person. Thousands, mostly women/ladies are predominant victims of violence. It is against this background the bill was proposed and passed.

Nevertheless, the protection of human rights that the bill proposed to enshrine in the nation legal book, we pray should be more of a practical approach rather than taking the route of un-implementable posturing. Outlawing a religious practice under the guise of protecting women may not go down with many in the country. Clearly, there is little or no justification to damn the female circumcision which was as violence against women as it is done in the bill.

The clause below from the bill has opened door to confusion as the implementers of the  law can deem anything as violence even when the concerned do not deem it as violence :

“Violence against women means any act or attempted act of violence directed against women and girls, which causes or may cause physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional or economic harm, whether this occur in private or public life”

According to the bill “Any person who carries out a procedure known as female genital mutilation or female circumcision or engages another to carry out such procedure commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to fine not exceeding fifty thousand or to both fine and imprisonment”

The above no doubt is an affront on religious rights.

Circumcision is one of the Sunnah of the natural disposition of man (fitrah). The Prophet of Islam (Pbuh) indicated this when he said:

 "The fitrah are five things or five things are part of the fitrah: circumcision, shaving the pubes, plucking the armpit hairs, cutting the nails, and trimming the mustache.'" 

Al-Bukhari (5889) and Muslim (257)

Circumcision is prescribed for both males and females. The correct view is that circumcision is only obligatory for males and for women it is mustahabb (preferable).

Be it as it may, as Muslims living in Nigeria we have the full right backed by the same constitution to carry out our religious rites and duties. 

This reminds me the comments recently made by an Abuja based Islamic commentator, Arc. Abdullah musa (pen Abdul) advising Muslims to be obligated only to the dictate of Allah and his prophet.

According to him, “Islamically, as Muslims, we are obligated only to the Laws of Allaah and where there are other Laws, we adopt to the extent of their consistency with the Shari'ah of Allaah”.

Health experts are of the opinion that female circumcision prevents the accumulation of the secretions of the labia minora, thereby preventing unpleasant odors. It also reduces the incidence of urinary tract infection.

Government is encouraged to promote good governance with proper consideration of the people`s faith.  It is only when this is done that we can all as Nigerians speak in unison to build a better nation.


In picture: Muslim women at a conference (c) I-Media 2015