Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
No fewer than 200 million females are carrying the negative effects of genital mutilation across the globe.
Many of this female population size, according to experts, are carrying lifetime infectious diseases like HIV, suffered barrenness, hemorrhagic diseases, or broken homes, due to sexual dis-satisfaction and other associated problems due to the removal of their genitals.
The Executive Director of a non-governmental organisation, New Generation Girls and Women Development Initiative (NIGAWD), Princess Abimbola Aladejare and Director, Centre for Gender Development, Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado Ekiti, Prof. Kemi Ogundana, said this at the school during a recent sensitisation programme tagged ‘Join Me to Stop Female Genital Mutilation’.
The workshop, which featured entertainment, was attended by the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Lanre Ogunsuyi; Permanent Secretaries, Ministries of Health and Women Affairs, Dr. Ayotunde Omole and Mrs. Peju Babafemi, respectively, and an artiste, Miss Juliana Olayode (aka Toyo Baby).
The high point of the event was the celebrity’s declaration of the abandonment of the harmful and outlawed practice not only in Ekiti but also around Nigeria as a whole.
Miffed by the fact that Ekiti State has the second highest prevalence of FGM in the country, Commissioner Ogunsuyi, who also attended the workshop, promised that the state will punish whoever was found engaging in such practice.
Speaking at the programme funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Prof. Ogundana described genital mutilation as a flagrant infringement of the rights of the female gender, urging the government at all levels to stop the menace in the overall interest of motherhood.
She said taking the programme, which was attended by over 2,000 participants to a university community, was appropriate, describing the undergraduates as the future mothers and husbands, who needed sensitisation ahead of time.
“Cultural and traditional beliefs are responsible for this devilish practice and some people see it as family heritage but we must stop it. Some of those who even performed the genital cutting are unskilled. They did it with primitive and unsterilised equipment that do damage to human parts.
“The World Health Organisation had a law prohibiting this practice and it has been domesticated in Nigeria, particularly in Ekiti State. I want to appeal that the laws must be implemented to protect the lives of our women”, he said.
Aladejare said as a survivor of the practice that she could not forget the psychologically imbalance she always suffered each time she remembered the level of dehumanisation being experienced by the victims.
She said those who practised the act were hiding under the myth that retention of female clitoris can cause promiscuity and still-birth, which she said had been proven wrong by medical experts.
The commissioner, who revealed that most of the cutters are women, added that the state government under Governor Ayodele Fayose would continue to sensitise the populace until the practice is completely obliterated in the state.