United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on South-East governments at all levels to make concise laws and enforce its implementation to put an end to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
“Women should be left as were created and the people should recognise and accept only cultural practice that is considered important to the people,” UNICEF said.
UNICEF Planning Monitoring and Evaluation specialist and OIC UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, Maureen Zubie-Okolo who made the call at a one-day South-East Zonal Media Dialogue organized by UNICEF in collaboration with Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State in Enugu, said the economic implication in treating FGM was very high as it cost USD1.4billon per a year globally.
Zubie-Okolo, who was represented by UNICEF field Office Enugu, Child protection specialist Victor Atuchukwu with the theme, ‘Accelerating Investment to End Female Genital Mutilation,’ said that women genital mutilation of any type whether cut or rubbed is a serious crime against women, as it imposed lifelong health risks on the women.
The practice also she said, “violates a person’s right to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life, in an instance when the procedure results in death.”
The Officer in Charge of UNICEF Field Office Enugu said that the prevalence of FGM is highest in the South East with 35 percent, with Imo State recording the highest, while Ebonyi State comes second.
This harmful practice, she said, has done more harm to the people than good and called on the authorities to speed up actions to totally stop the practice.
Resource persons at the one-day briefing blamed governments at all levels for using traditional rulers who are the custodians of those harmful practices to head most of the committees set up to stop the FGM, in rural areas, which finally does not yield any good result.
According to the resource persons, such use of the monarchs might be why nobody has been arrested or prosecuted for such a harmful and wicked act on women.
Ijeoma Mike-Ajanwachukwu who spoke on ‘Accelerating Investment to End FGM in Nigeria: Role of the media’, appealed that the media should expose those harmful practices and educate the public properly about the harmful practice and its effect on women.
She said that the complications have serious implications for the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women.
In a welcome remark, the Director-General Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State, Anyaso Anyaso said the station was happy to partner with UNICEF in tackling the ugly and harmful practice called Female Genital Mutilation in society.
Anyaso said that to eliminate FGM, coordinated and systematic efforts were needed.
“They must engage whole communities and focus on human rights, gender equality, sexual education and attention to the needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences,” Anyaso said.