Police Order Arrest, Prosecution of Female Genital Mutilation Offenders in Ekiti
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Police Command, yesterday directed his men and officers to henceforth begin aggressive arrest and prosecution of female genital cutters in the state, describing it as illegal and gross violation of human rights.
The Commissioner of Police, Ekiti Command, Mr. Morounkeji Adesina, gave the directive in Ado Ekiti, during a capacity building workshop organised by Hacey Health Initiative for Law Enforcement Officers on Female Genital Mutilation.
The workshop was attended by the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force, Amotekun Corps, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and community leaders.
The CP, represented by the Command’s spokesman, DSP Sunday Abutu, described female genital mutilation (FGM) as a violation of the State’s Child’s Rights Act and the gender based violence and Prohibition Law 2019 as amended, enacted by the state government.
Adesina said the scourge had destroyed many homes and lives and that security agencies as enforcers of the laws would not allow the illegality to continue in Ekiti unabated.
He said: “This workshop is a welcome development because it deals with stopping Female Genital Mutilation, one of the bad practices in our society. The practice had caused permanent injuries and disabilities to many women , which was unlawful and this must be discouraged.
“From now henceforth, we will put our torch lights out there and monitor the activities of our people. My men should take it as part of their responsibilities to arrest and prosecute offenders. But our people should give us information that can help us arrest the perpetrators,” he said.
Expressing regret that no one had been jailed for FGM in Ekiti despite the existing laws, the Coordinator, Reproductive Maternal and Child Health, Ekiti State Ministry of Health, Mrs Olukemi Akinleye, said the partnership with the security agencies will change the narratives.
“It is sad that nobody had been arrested or prosecuted. FGM keeps increasing in Ekiti despite the sensitisation by government. The GBV Law and Child’s Rights Act stipulated two years imprisonment for offenders or N200,000 fine or both , and these must be applied to teach offenders a bitter lesson,” she said.
In her presentation, a lawyer and Chief Executive Officer, Gender Relevance Initiative Promotion (GRIP), Barr Rita Ilevbare, branded FGM as a socio-cultural menace that can be tackled by virulent enforcement of appropriate laws in place.
The child and human rights advocate, said: “The fact that there is high teenage pregnancy in Ekiti shows that there was no correlation between the belief that cutting female genitalia makes women to be promiscuous.
“Every prosecution starts with arrest. We have had cases of women suffering keloids, painful sexual intercourse, Ciserial Section because of FGM. Why must we practice what is regarded as a violation of the law? If after the series of empowerments by government and the cutters are not ready to stop, then we must apply the laws to deal with them”.
The State Coordinator, Hacey Health Initiative, Oluwanifemi Ayeni, said the workshop was conceptualised to equip the security agencies and stakeholders with knowledge and skills in dealing with issues that deal with violence against persons.