By Obinna Ogbonnaya
20 communities in Ebonyi State have declare their support for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) fight against Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting, FGM/C with a promise of embarking on house to house campaign against the harmful and obnoxious practice still persisting in most communities of Ebonyi.
The moves to end the practices received a boost during a 2 day training organised for community leaders and others stakeholders in the fight against FGM/C by UNICEF in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) held at Ugbodo, Ebonyi Local government area and Ezillo, Ishielu council area, Ebonyi State.
So far, traditional rulers and other community leaders in four local governments areas in the state, which includes Izzi, Afikpo North, Abakaliki and Ohaukwu have declared their readiness to use every measure to end female genital mutilation and cutting in their domains.
In their resolutions during the training at Ugbodo, Ebonyi LGA, the stakeholders disclosed that they must do everything within their powers to ensure that the state and their different communities come out as one of the highest ranking position in the practice of FGM/C in the country.
One of the participants and a community leader in Ndeigwe community of Ebonyi Local government, Chief Nwoba Samuel revealed that despite the fact that some persons still engage in the practice, traditional rulers and other stakeholders through the constant training and enlightenment campaign by UNICEF and through the effort of the Wife of Ebonyi State Governor, Mrs. Recheal Umahi, many communities are already seeing the practice as evil and act against women and children.
He stated that before now in the state Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting, a cultural practice of removing part of the female genital either as a customary rite of initiation into womanhood or as a check against promiscuity was well accepted but regretted that many woman, children have died or gone through severe pain as a result of the act and insisted on its abandonment.
He stated that according to UNICEF document, “In Nigeria, six states top the list of where the practice is prevalent and regrettably, our dear state, is among the state that top the list adding that FGM/C is still deeply rooted in some communities which sees it as part of their culture and enjoined the relevant authorities to ensure that the practitioners are not just discouraged but must be made to face the full wrath of the law if they fail to abandon the practice.
“I am glad that we have the cooperation of our traditional rulers, religious leaders, community leaders and others in the fight against the act, I strongly believe that the war against FGM/C must be won and we all would be happy for it”.
Another participant who is also a clergy in a Pentecostal church in Amaozara community of Ishielu, LGA, Pastor Eze Ani insisted that the important massages that needs to be carried to the communities must include that FGM/C is no longer necessary as a cultural requirement, that it is indeed harmful, physically and psychologically harmful to the victim.
The clergy who stated that sometime in 2013, he nearly lost he niece as a result of the practice said that the victims are our daughters, sisters, aunties, cousins, nieces, wives and mothers adding that all hands must be on deck to stamp out the practice.
He commended UNICEF for the training and reaffirmed their commitment to achieving total abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in the state adding that there is the need to engage others towards boosting the awareness campaigns to end the harmful effects of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting especially grandmothers, mother-in-law who usually encourage their daughters to mutilate their girls or press them with hot water or powder.
He expressed joy and happiness that despite the effort of the state government, in the fight against FGM/C, UNICEF and NOA has also committed itself to intensive advocacy to eradicate the traditional practice of FGM/C in the state pointing out that there is need for regular and continuous interactions, advocacy visits to rural communities, public sensitisation, jingles sponsorship on radio, television stations as well as printing and circulation of the harm associated with the practice.
In his remark, the State Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Emma Abbah said that though the practice of FGM/C was rooted in traditional and religious beliefs, it has been revealed that such beliefs are injurious to life and has serious negative effect on the lives of the victims.
Dr. Abbah urged the participants to take the massage down to the rural communities and also appealed to them not to hesitate to report perpetrators of the act to the relevant agencies.
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