UNICEF Bemoans High Rate of Female Genital Mutilation in Imo, Ebonyi 

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Amby Uneze in Owerri

Despite the public declarations of abandonment of female genital mutilation (FGM) by about 60 communities in Ikeduru and Oguta local government areas of Imo State, the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) is not comfortable with the high prevalence rate in the state as well as Ebonyi State.

Disclosing this yesterday in Enugu at a one-day media dialogue  with journalists drawn from the five Eastern states of Imo, Ebonyi, Abia, Anambra and Enugu organised by UNICEF in collaboration with Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) to commemorate the 2020 International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh urged all stakeholders to put in more effort to eradicate the problem.

This year’s theme, which is ‘Unleashing Youth Power’ is also seeking active youths’ participation in the fight against the obnoxious and harmful FGM practice, with huge focus on mobilising youths for the elimination of the dreadful practice.

Conteh described female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) as human right violation against girls and women as such, it severely affects the rights of women to reproductive health, emotional stability and well-being and denies their opportunity to fully utilise their potential to socio-economic development of the society, impacts negatively on their living standard.

Decrying the prevalence rates of 61.7 per cent for Ebonyi and 53.2 per cent for Imo respectively as against the national prevalence average rate at 20 per cent, Conteh urged the states to target the national average rate or surpass it for the general well-being of girls in the society.

The UNICEF boss revealed that the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) stated that 19 per cent of girls age 0 – 14 are circumcised, adding that 17 per cent of those girls were circumcised before their first birthday.

He noted: “FGM among girls is most common among girls whose mothers are cut (56 per cent), whose mothers have no education (24 per cent), and those from the poorest households (27 per cent). About 82 per cent of the circumcisions are performed by traditional circumciser who usually use local and unsterilised implements.”

Conteh, therefore, appealed to all stakeholders to use the opportunity presented by this year’s international FGM day to accelerate steps towards stopping the practice, by adopting coordinated and systematic efforts, promoting policies and positive actions leading to the elimination of female genital mutilation, while engaging communities with focus on human rights, gender equality, sexual education, etc.

In his remarks, the Director General of BCA, Mr. Anyaso Anyaso, said the corporation was proud to partner UNICEF in bringing together seasoned journalists to brainstorm on expected media roles in tackling the ugly practice of FGM in our clime.

He enjoined the traditional rulers, town union and community heads, religious leaders, the media and indeed all Nigerians to participate actively in stopping the harmful practice against girls.