Stakeholders condemn female genital mutilation in Cross River

By Benson Ezugwu
Calabar –  Stakeholders in Cross River, on Tuesday, condemned the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in some parts of the state.

The stakeholders expressed their views at a Media Round Table, organised by Safe Heaven Development Initiative, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Calabar.

Dr Antor Ndep, a Public Health Consultant, described female genital mutilation as an old fashioned cultural practice that mortgaged the right of the girl child.

Ndep outlined some of the dangers of female genital mutilation to include, emotional trauma and death of the girl child, due to excess bleeding and loss of sexual appetite by the girl child.

“The practice is against the fundamental rights of the girl child and it has never stopped promiscuity.

“As a victim of female genital mutilation, it is a humiliation on the girl child.

“It led to the death of my younger sister and some other women that I know; so the practice must stop.

“Everybody should join hands to stop female genital mutilation in our state,’’ she said.

Ndep, who is also a lecturer in the University of Calabar, encouraged government at all levels as well as traditional institutions in the state to intensify efforts on the need to stop female genital mutilation.

Also speaking, Mrs Ukeme Ekong, the Chairperson of Development Options (DO), said the law against female genital mutilation and other child right abuses had been in operation in the state since 2009.

She regretted that despite the existence of the law, the practice had continued to go on in the various communities.

“This law has been in existence in this state since 2009 but how many people are aware of the provisions of the law; the right of many innocent girls have been violated but nobody is saying anything,” she said.

Mrs Pauline Ebah, who represented the state Commissioner for Information, also described the female genital mutilation as a complete violation of the right of the girl child.

“We must all join hands to sensitise and mobilise against this practice,” she said.

Mrs Margaret Onah, the Executive Director of Safe Heaven Development Initiative, said the organisation decided to embark on the campaign against the practice because of the dangers associated with it.

“Nigeria does not see female genital mutilation as an issue but I can tell you now that it is an issue,’’ she stated.

Onah said the NGO had carried its campaign to three Local Government Areas of Ikom, Boki and Etung, where it mobilised traditional rulers and opinion leaders on the need to stop the practice.

“A lot of them have accepted that the practice violates the right of the girl child,’’ she said.

She called for the support of the media and other Civil Society Organisations in the campaign, adding that the NGO had six months to complete the campaign project in the state. (NAN)

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