The Child Health Advocacy Initiative (CHAI) and the Lagos State Government have warned against female genital mutilation, saying it is unhealthy and violates the rights of women.
Stating this in a press briefing on FGM in Lagos, the Executive Director, CHAI, Mrs. Lola Alonge, said FGM violates all human rights principles, including equality, non discrimination of sex and the right to health.
She said FGM causes lifelong physical and psychological harm, as it affects the family, community, relationships and economic development. “Trained health workers who perform FGM are violating girls and women’s right to life and health.
“We therefore call for the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP). On May 2015, President Goodluck Jonathan signed the VAPP into law. This law bans FGM and other traditional harmful practices. But the VAPP only applies at the Federal Capital Territory. It is now up to each state to domesticate the law. Previously, 11 states have enacted laws against FGM. However, there is inconsistency between passing and enforcing the law,” she said.
The Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Dr. Jide Idris, said FGM is the most barbaric form of killing and harming of women, adding that this leaves them psychologically traumatised. “FGM is a deeply rooted cultural belief that needs to be removed. It is not just enough to make the law, we need to call people together and create awareness on how to end FGM. In Lagos, we have 44 per cent practice because Lagos is a multi-national state with various ethnic groups.
“FGM heals with irreparable scare that prevents the woman from enjoying sex, having babies, among other harms. Everyone needs to come together to fight against the practice.
Idris, who was represented by the Director, Family Health and Nutrition, Dr. Folashade Oludara, said, “We are told that 28 per cent are being conducted by health workers, but am sure it’s not in Lagos because any health worker caught doing so will be prosecuted,” he added.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs, Dr. Lola Akande, said FGM was an abuse against the girl-child and women hence the need to be abolished. The commissioner, represented by Dr. Mrs. Sola Falana, said Lagos was ready to collaborate with CHAI in the eradication of the practice.
“We believe this is an abuse, and we have a number you can dial to report cases of abuse in Lagos. The state government has always been in the forefront against such practices and we are ready to collaborate with CHAI in the eradication. But this is a collective effort, we need to carry out sensitisation especially to our men. Today, many women are not enjoying their marriage because of this FGM, it has led to so much deaths,” she noted.
Explaining more about the practice, the President, Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Dr. Sariyu Ashiru, stressed that the practice has no medical benefit but is still lingering because of culture. “These procedures are being performed by quacks which is why the victim end up with complications,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Baale of Marine Beach, Chief Joseph Omobolanle ogunmola, said his community has started campaigning against the practice through the pastors and the Baales: “The practice is endangering the life of our young girls. We want them to live. It should be our collective responsibilities to sensitise our families to stop FGM so that our females can live long and in good health.”