Goodluck Jonathan signed the ban into law as one of his final acts as president before handing power over to Muhammadu Buhari, who was sworn into office last Friday.

“According to 2014 U.N. data, a quarter of Nigerian women have undergone FGM — the partial or total removal of external genitalia which can cause physical and psychological problems.

“Although some of Nigeria’s 36 states already prohibit the ritual, this week’s new federal law brings in a nationwide ban.

“The law, which was passed by the Senate on May 5, also prohibits men from abandoning their wives or children without economic support, according to the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, a Lagos-based thinktank.” reported Reuters

Many have expressed worries about how the ban will be enforced, in particular in rural communities where such practices are very entrenched and considered to be part of tradition and culture. However it is indeed a step forward that may encourage other African countries to follow Nigeria’s example.