By Victor Adeoti
Osogbo – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful traditional practice and gross violation of girl-child fundamental human rights which must be eradicated in Nigeria.
Mrs Aderonke Olutayo, UNICEF FGM Consultant for Ekiti, Osun and Oyo States, said this at the public declaration of abandonment of FGM in Ife East Local Government Area of Osun on Monday.
Olutayo said FGM was not only harmful but also against nature as it destroys the wholesome and beautiful way women and girls were naturally created.
She said: “FGM is a Social Norm – which means that people practice it because they believe that others in their community do it, and these people believe they ought to conform to it.
“Most of the reasons sustaining the practice are based on myths and preconceptions, which in turn have shaped the social expectations among the people.
“FGM poses increased risk of infection or prolonged bleeding, prolonged labour, still-birth and maternal death during childbirth.
“It also leaves lasting physical and emotional scars and an irreparable physical damage.”
Olutayo, however, decried the high prevalence of FGM in Osun, saying the state has the highest rate of FGM in Nigeria.
She said the FGM prevalence among girls and women in the state was about 68.7 per cent which, according to her, is higher than the National prevalence of 18.4 per cent.
Olutayo said it was a thing of joy for UNICEF to see more than 137 communities in the state making public declaration of abandonment of FGM.
“Today’s event rewrites history and marks a new chapter for the next generation of girls and women in these communities, as they publicly declare the total abandonment of FGM.
“And create a new norm of keeping their girls intact; the way that they were created.
“We hope that today’s public declaration will inspire other communities at various stages of education and dialogues to accelerate their progress towards declaring the abandonment of FGM.
“UNICEF will continue to support you to sustain this momentum by embarking on post-declaration surveillance to monitor compliance,” Olutayo said.
She said UNICEF would establish community surveillance team, protection network and also train community champions to ensure total compliance.
Earlier, Mrs Yomi Olasinde, the Osun Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), said the public declaration of abandonment of FGM was a good step towards eradicating the age long practice.
“I believe with this public declaration, nobody in these communities will ever venture into such act as they now know the legal, social and medical implications of it,” Olasinde said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlight of the programme was the signing of an undertaking by the representatives of the communities on the abandonment of FGM.