UNICEF, stakeholders seek end to female genital mutilation

• 200m girls, women affected in 30 countries
• Osun, Ogun, Ekiti, Imo top list in Nigeria

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has canvassed an end to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) in the country.

UNICEF’s Communication Officer, Lagos, Mrs. Blessing Ejiofor, disclosed in a statement at the 2017 International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM/C.

Ejiofor described mutilation as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other cutting of, or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

She said the menace is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

According to UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Mohamed Fall, “Every study shows that there is no benefit in mutilating or cutting any girl or woman. It is a practice that could cause severe physical and psychological harm.

“It violates a woman’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and in some cases, the right to life.”

He explained that a 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey showed that Osun State has the highest rate of genital mutilation at 77 per cent, followed by Ogun, 74 per cent and Ebonyi at 60 per cent.

Other states are Ekiti, 72 per cent, Imo, 68 per cent and Oyo, 66 per cent.

Describing the practice as barbaric, the National President of Inter-Africa Committee (IAC), Prof. Modupe Onadeko, said: “Harmful traditional practices often resulted in premature death of girls and women and had also left many physically, medically, psychologically and emotionally damaged for life.

“There is no good thing in mutilating girls and women because the practice usually cause marital crisis. The victims are often frigid, as they cannot respond well during sexual intercourse with their husbands.”

The Executive Director of Girl to Women Research Development Centre (G2W), Mrs. Olamide Falana, blamed the practice on ignorance and negative cultural practice.

Also at a media dialogue to mark the day in Imo and Ebonyi states, the UNICEF representative disclosed that no fewer than 200 million girls and women in 30 countries are currently suffering from its effect.

The states consultant, Mr. Benjamin Mbakwem, made the disclosure yesterday in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

As part of measures to stop the practice, the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), have earmarked about $980 million from 2018 to 2030.

Meanwhile, the Chief Judge of Ebonyi State, Justice Aloysius Nwankwo yesterday said the penalty of two years, or an option of N2000 fine for perpetrators was not stringent enough to check the menace.

Nwankwo stated this in Abakaliki at a symposium to commemorate the day.

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