Stakeholders in Izzi local government area of Ebonyi State, on Monday, applauded the intervention and support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) aimed at eradicating the obnoxious practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in their communities.
The stakeholders maintained that despite the little challenge being witnessed in the course of sensitising the people on the dangers of the practice, majority of the people practicing the act have embraced the change while the women were gradually abandoning the common practice of massaging.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP on the effort of the traditional institution to ensure the total elimination of the oractice in Izzi local government area of the State, the traditional ruler of Igbagu Autonomous Community, HRH Eze Ogbonna Ukwa, said that the community has not just embraced the abandonment of the FGM practice but has also put laws and fines in place to ensure that those who secretly engage in the practice were fished out and made to face the wrath of the law.
Eze Ukwa, who expressed concern on the dangers associated with the practice, noted that there has been drastic reduction in some of the harmful effect of the act and commended UNICEF and the Ebonyi State Government for the zeal, the political will and support to the various communities to ensure that FGM is eliminated completely.
“Here in Igbagu community, we have since outlawed the practice of FGM but the little challenge we are having is that the aged women in our community especially when they are left at home with a little baby still use vaseline and hot water to massage them,” he said.
He called for the strengthening of the enabling laws to ensure that those who still engage in the practice are punished, adding that such would serve as a lesson to others.
“There is no gainsaying that the effort of UNICEF has yielded much fruit. It is not expected that we should relent until the practice is completely eliminated in Izzi and Ebonyi in general.
“In our various village meetings and other gatherings, we take time to emphasise on the need for the people to abandon the practice and we also sound a note of warning to those still indulging in it to desist as anyone caught would face severe sanction.
“There are committees in place that monitor the activities of the practitioners to ensure that the abandonment is complete. There is no doubt that before now that the cutting was a source of livelihood to many but when you realize that your source of livelihood endangers the life of another, then there is need to look for something else to do.
“We must continue to commend UNICEF for restoring the dignity of our girl-child and saving them from the eminent danger of bleeding almost to death, severe pain and other harm associated with the practice.
“No one can claim ignorance of the dangers associated to the practice because at the villages, schools and even churches, the message is everywhere,” he added.
A woman leader and a member of the Catholic Women Organization (CWO), Saint John the Evangelist Parish Iboko, Mrs. Fidelia Nwojiji, said that the old practice of cutting has destroyed the lives of many young girls and children and thanked UNICEF for the intervention.
Mrs. Nwojiji described the practice as man’s inhumanity to man, adding that the enlightenment campaigns by UNICEF opened the eyes of many women including those that see it as a business venture.
“The slogan and the clarion call is timely and requires the support and collaboration of all. That’s why we in the CWO has made it a point of duty that we must also take the message down to all our parishes in Izzi land. In our CWO meetings, we preach the good news and the Priests are also in agreement with us, so we are winning the way of eliminating completely FGM in Iboko,” she said.