BusinessDay

FGM; UNICEF to train police, other stakeholders in Ebonyi

United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Thursday said it would train relevant stakeholders including; men and officers of the police, Social Welfare Officers, Civil Defence, judicial officers, and other duty bearers in Ebonyi state to end Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) in the area.

Fifteen communities in Ishielu local government area of the State on Thursday made the open declaration to end FGM in the area.

UNICEF – Enugu chief field officer, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh stated this in Ntezi, Ishielu local government area of the state during the public declaration of 15 communities in the local government for the abandonment of Female genital Mutilation.

Represented by Mr. Theophilus Nwokpor, Conteh female genital Mutilation is a part of violence against women and girls, adding that it was since 2015, Ebonyi State Directorate of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), in collaboration with Ebonyi State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MWASD), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, Child Protection Network, and other NGO/CSO partners – with support from UNICEF, have worked tirelessly with state and non-state actors, including the police, traditional, religious and community leaders and members, male groups, women groups among others on the need to end the age-long practice in the state.

“Today, we have great policies and laws that protect the rights and privileges of children, women, and girls in Ebonyi State – Ebonyi State Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law (2018), Ebonyi State Child Rights Law (2010), National Priority Agenda for Vulnerable Children in Nigeria (2013 – 2020), etc. Sadly, according to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (2018) report, Ebonyi State ranks 3 rd on state prevalence of FGM at 53.2% for women aged 15-49years. While we are happy that the state prevalence dropped from 74% in 2013 to 53.2% in 2018, this is a call to action for us to quickly, and as a matter of urgency, continue to work, collaborate with community (traditional and religious) stakeholders, enforce the protection laws to reverse this ugly trend and protect women and girls from the harmful practice. Since 2015, UNICEF has been supporting the implementing partner to support social norms change through advocacy, dialogue, education, sensitisation, community mobilization, and consensus-building to facilitate community commitments to enhance positive changes on gender and social norms and for the collective abandonment of FGM. While this is going on, girls and women who need FGM-related services are referred for prevention, protection, and care services. During this period, the engagement with religious leaders and traditional rulers has led them to make public statements delinking FGM from religious requirements, and publicly denounce FGM practices, respectively.

“Today, we are most elated that these engagements and collaboration have yielded very positive and invaluable result as the entire (15) communities (members and leaders) of Ishielu LGA come out en masse to openly declare their abandonment of FGM practice on this day Thursday; the 29 Day of October 2020.

“Today, Ishielu LGA has joined the league of nations to firmly stand by, and contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 5.3 ” eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation UNICEF is in solidarity with the good people of Ishielu LGA on this feat, and we kindly urge that this momentum be maintained, resolutions sustainably implemented, functional community surveillance team put in place to monitor and ensure compliance, and collaboration with state government and law enforcement agencies strengthened – towards a more protected and safe environment for women and girls in Ishielu LGA, Ebonyi state and beyond. After this declaration, law enforcement and duty bearers (Police, Social Welfare Officer, Civil Defence, Judicial Officers, etc.) will be trained to further support the efforts of the community stakeholders to end this practice in Ishielu LGA of Ebonyi state”, he said.

In his remarks, the State Director, National Orientation Agency(NOA), Dr. Emmanuel Abah, said FGM was not only harmful but also against the wisdom of nature as according to him, it destroys the wholesome and beautiful work of women and girls as naturally created

He, therefore, described the Public Declaration of the 15 communities in Ishielu local government area of the state as a model exemplary community commitment towards the total elimination of FGM in the area.

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