BY EMMANUEL MGBEAHURIKE, Owerri
UNICEF has emphasized that the global interest in the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is achievable through tackling the root causes of gender inequality and strive for efforts towards Women’s Social and Economic Emancipation.
This elucidation was made known by UNICEF Chief of Field Office Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh while presenting a goodwill message at the one day consensus conference, organized by the National Orientation Agency with support from UNICEF, with key stakeholders for FGM Abandonment in Ideato North Local Government Area, Urualla, Imo State.
According to him, leaders across the globe have given their consent towards the realization of this laudable objective and stressed that elimination of FGM is one of the targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He submitted that this is realizable and all hands must be on deck, so as to translate this political commitment into action.
Dr. Conteh advised the Federal Government to initiate new policies and legislative framework which would protect the rights of girls and women, so as to live free from violence and discrimination.
Dr. Conteh who was represented by the UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Victor Atuchukwu highlighted the commitment of UNICEF to end FGM, as this represents total violation of Human Rights as millions of girls are at risks of being mutilated in future. According him, this efforts are yielding the necessary results as FGM leads to long term physical , psychological and social consequences.
His words, “FGM is a form of Gender Based Violence, we cannot address same in isolation from other forms of violence against women and girls. To end FGM, we have to tackle the root cause of gender inequality, work for women social and economic empowerment”.
Dr. Conteh noted that series of meetings have been held with some stakeholders, including religious, traditional rulers, women and youth leaders to stem the practice among the citizens in the society. Shading more light on the hazards, risks and damages inherent in FGM, the UNICEF Chief urged them to denounce the practice and spread the campaign against same to all nooks and crannies of their communities.
Speaking, the Director of NOA in the state, Vitus Ekeocha regretted that FGM had continued to linger in some communities despite rigorous public enlightenment campaign against this trend.
Ekeocha who recalled that a lot of sensitization program have been held with major stakeholders aimed at eliminating the practice of FGM. According to him, all segments of the society, including legal experts would be consulted to secure consensus on the public declaration which is aimed to end FGM. He made it clear that upon the consummating of the sensitization program, individuals, groups and associations found guilty of practicing FGM, would be arrested and persecuted according to the laws of the land.
The NOA Director stressed that responses from various meetings indicated that the people of Ideato North had resolved to do away with this obnoxious practice and give the girl child a new lease of life.