Obinna Ogbonnaya, Abakaliki
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF and the United Nation Population Fund, UNFPA in collaboration with the Ebonyi State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development yesterday has commenced the training of partners and educators from the 3 Female Genital Mutilation FGM high burden Local Government Areas of the State to mainstream FGM in their existing Secondary School curriculum.
The UNICEF Communication Officer, Enugu Zonal Office, Mrs. Ijeoma Onuoha Ogwe during the one day training in Ivo local government area of the state said that in the South Eastern Nigeria, Ebonyi State still remains one of the states where the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is high with 74 percent prevalence rate.
Mrs. Ogwe stated that the 3 FGM high burden Local Government Areas in the state includes Afikpo South, Ivo and Ikwo LGAs adding that the training is to mainstream FGM in their existing secondary school teaching curriculum with the aim to inculcate the disadvantages of FGM early in the lives of children and their peers.
A victim who is also a secondary school teacher of Akaeze Community Secondary School Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Mrs. Chidinma during the training said that it was an age long practice inherited from the parents adding that she had to carry out the practice on the children to continue the practice.
According to them; “Every Female child in my house was circumcised and I asked my mother why she got all the three of us circumcised?, she simply answered that it is an age long custom, that her own mother also circumcised her and she didn’t give me any other reason but that it was inherited by her” she said.
The Chief of Unicef field office Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh who was represented by the Child Protection Specialist, Mrs. Nkiru Maduechesi called on governments at all levels, civil society organisations, and traditional and religious leaders to join together and end the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting in the State.
Mrs. Maduechesi stated that every study and every bit of evidence shows that there is absolutely no benefit to mutilate or to cut any girl or woman for non-medical reasons adding that it is a practice that can cause severe physical and psychological harm on the victims.
She noted that according to the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey carried out, five states in Nigeria have rates of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) that are more than 60 per cent, with Osun and Ebonyi highest at 77 and 74 per cent respectively.
“The other states are Ekiti, 72 per cent; Imo, 68 per cent; and Oyo, 66 per cent”.
“FGM/C comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other cutting of or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women”.
“In February last year, Wife of the President Mrs. Aisha Buhari launched a national campaign to end FGM/C, calling on all parties to work together to halt this harmful practice. Her call underlines the need for collective action at every level’.
She said that UNICEF is working with Federal and State governments, especially in the southern states where the practice is most prevalent, training partners, creating awareness at all levels and working with communities to convince practitioners and community members to promote an end to the practice.
“Support is growing for the national campaign to end FGM/C. With the support of the Wives of the State Governors, Imo and Oyo State Houses of Assembly are currently working on draft bills that will prohibit the practice of FGM/C and any custom or tradition promoting it. When the bills are passed, Imo and Oyo will join the other most affected southern states. Osun, Ebonyi and Ekiti already have laws against the practice in place”.
“We applaud the progress that has been made in Nigeria, but there is still a long way to go. Even though this practice has persisted for over a thousand years, our evidence tells us that with collective action, it can end in one generation,’ added Mohamed Fall. “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 even – in some cases – the right to life,” he said.