Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
Five states in Nigeria have recorded high rates of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) with more than 60 per cent, with Osun and Ebonyi StateS having the highest at 77 and 74 per cent respectively, according to National Demographic and Health Survey.
The other states are Ekiti 72 per cent; Imo 68 per cent and Oyo 66 per cent.
FGM/C comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other cutting of or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
It is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
Marking the day, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, stressed that “every study and bit of evidence we have shows there is absolutely no benefit to mutilate or to cut any girl or woman genitals for non-medical reasons.
It is a practice that can cause severe physical and psychological harm.”
He said UNICEF is working with federal and state governments, especially in the southern states where the practice is most prevalent, training partners, creating awareness at all levels and working with communities to convince practitioners and community members to put an end to the practice.
“Support is growing for the national campaign to end FGM/C. With the support of the wives of the state governors, Imo and Oyo State Houses of Assembly are currently working on draft bills that will prohibit the practice of FGM/C and any custom or tradition promoting it. When the bills are passed, Imo and Oyo State will join other most affected southern states-Osun, Ebonyi and Ekiti-that already have laws against the practice in place.
“We applaud the progress that has been made in Nigeria, but there is still a long way to go. Even though this practice has persisted for over a thousand years, our evidence tells us that with collective action, it can end in one generation.
“It violates a woman’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment, and even in some cases, the right to life,” he said.
Last year February, wife of the president, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, launched a national campaign to end FGM/C, calling on all parties to work together to halt this harmful practice. Her call underlines the need for collective action at every level.