FGM: Religious Leaders Support UNICEF’s Effort in Imo

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Amby Uneze in Owerri

Religious leaders under the auspices of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the Owerri West and Ehime Mbano Council Areas of Imo State have mobilised their faithful against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the state.

Disclosing this during a one-day joint advocacy dialogue with the National Orientation Agency in Imo State with the support of the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population (UNFPA), CAN chairmen in the two council areas, Rev. Jude Okenwa of the Strong Towers Believers Church (Owerri West LGA) and his Ehime Mbano council counterpart Apostle Isaiah Onyekauwa – General Overseer of Voice of the Christ Church expressed disaffection on the practice of FGM in the communities.

In separate interviews, they said they have seen and heard of the dangers associated with the practice and that they have resolved to sanction members of their church found guilty of it.

The religious leaders frowned at the continuous practice of FGM by some Christians despite the continued global wind of evangelism and civilisation and denounced this as “unbiblical, inhuman and barbaric”, pledging that they would henceforth place eagle eyes on members who indulge in the act.

The Child Protection Specialist, Office Enugu, UNICEF Nigeria, Mr. Victor Atuchukwu described FGM as callous, obnoxious and offensive to humanity which has ruined many families.

Atuchukwu said that UNICEF in collaboration with UNFPA and NOA would continue to explore avenues to eradicate the practice, noting that the church was at a vantage position to assist.
Enugu State Director, NOA, Victus Ekeocha, said as a cultural practice with devastating medical, social, emotional, legal and economic repercussions for girls and women, FGM was illegal and violates the rights of women hence it should be abandoned.

The NOA director who dwelt on FGM and religion noted that one of the most common misconceptions is the connection of FGM with Christianity stressing that the former violates the basic principles of Christianity saying, “misconception and misinterpretation of the scriptures needs to be clarified because most of the practitioners may not personally check the authenticity of what they have heard about the scripture.”