The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, yesterday said that the public declaration on the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM/C by the people of Izzi land comprising Abakaliki, Ebonyi and Izzi local government areas of the state marked a new chapter for the next generation of girls and women leaving within the location and indeed Ebonyi state at large.
The Chief of UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, Mr. Ibrahim Conteh represented by WASH specialist UNICEF Enugu office, Mr. Amos Kudzala stated this during the occasion of the Public Declaration on FGM/C Abandonment by Izzi people at their ancestral home in Amegu in Izzi local government area of the state.
The UNICEF boss who stated that the practice of FGM/C remain a social norm that was being fueled by myths, preconceptions and diverse ignorance about social expectations pointed out that 7 out of every 10 girls or women had suffered preventable and irreversible damage to their genital organs as many had died as a result of the consequences.
“As you may be award now, FGM is one of the most harmful prevailing practices known to the human race since the end of the era of human practices like human sacrifice, killing of twins and slavery. The harmful practice of FGM has endured generations, tolerated and in certain ways promoted due to multiple factors of preconceptions and pluralistic ignorance.
“Ebonyi state has the second highest FGM prevalent rate at 74% and ranks second highest in the country. Embedded in these numbers are the lives of girls and women. Today’s event will rewrite history and mark a new chapter for the next generation of girls and women of Izzi. As Izzi kingdom publicly declares total abandonment of FGM, a new norm of living girls and women uncut and natural as created by God has now begun”.
In her address , the Wife of Ebonyi State Governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi thanked the people of Izzi clan for the initiative and expressed optimism that with the development, the issue of FGM/C would soon be a thing of the past in the state.
She noted that her pet project, Family Succour and Upliftment Foundation, would remain a veritable tool for the protection of the girl child and empowerment of women across the state.
She said her office would ensure that all relevant stakeholders key into the policy of the state toward the complete eradication of the FMG/C which had over the years become a source of pain to girls and women in the state.
In their declaration which was signed by the Izzi clan traditional ruler’s Forum and custodians of Izzi culture, the royal fathers added that: “It therefore stands that we have today expunged and outlawed the practice of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting from the culture of Izzi clan and mandate Izzi traditional rulers t publicize it in their domain”.
Reading the declaration on behalf of the people of Izzi, the Secretary , Izzi Council of Traditional Rulers , Eze Emmanuel Nwojiji said that the Wife of the Governor and a Committee set up has sent a bill to the House of Assembly which when pass would stipulated penalty for offenders adding that the traditional rulers have resolved to on their own punish offenders according to the customs and tradition of the people.
According to him, the punishment rangers from, denial of land for farming during the farming season, restriction from attending community functions, payment of monetary fines and payment of material fines like goat, fowl among others.
Eze Nwojiji said; ‘it therefore stands that we have today expunged and outlawed the practice of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting from the culture of Izzi clan and mandate Izzi traditional rulers to publicize it in their domains. though FGM usually observed as a rite of passage to womanhood is an age long tradition of Izzi people, it has brought much health hazards on our girls and women”.