Female Genital Mutilation A Punishable Family Crime – Lawyer

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By Olabisi Akinbode
Ibadan –  Mrs Aderonke Ige, Director, Justice Development and Peace Commission, a Catholic-based organisation, says Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), is a family crime.

She spoke on Wednesday at a programme tagged “End Female Genital Mutilation Art Competition Award”, held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organized by Onelife Initiative for Human Development, a youth-based NGO.

Ige said the act of mutilating the female genital was usually carried out with the connivance of one of the parents and one or many other members of the family.

“In most cases of FGM, one parent usually connives with other members of the family to carry out this dastardly act on the girl-child or the teenage girl.

“In some communities, FGM is carried out on pregnant women or women who are about to marry.

“Our tradition makes it impossible for the practice to be sanctioned or corrected because it would be very difficult to sue or charge one’s family member to court when this act is carried out on the girl or woman,” she said.

Ige, who is a lawyer, said that there were now legal tools to seek redress on behalf of the recipient of act, adding that various legal provisions now exist locally, nationally and internationally to seek redress on genital mutilation.

“To stop FGM, the Violence Against Persons Provision (VAPP) Act, was passed by National Assembly in 2015 and in Oyo State, Violence Against Women (VAW) Law was promulgated in 2016.

“Section 6 (1) of the Act says ‘The circumcision or mutilation of the girl-child or woman is hereby prohibited’.

“Section 6 (2) says a person who performs female genital mutilation or engages another to carry out such circumcision or mutilation commits an offence.

“He or she is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 4 years or a fine not exceeding N200,000.00 or both, ” she said.

According to Ige, the Federal Government has set up a regulatory body — National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIPP) to administer the provisions of the Act.

She added that NAPTIPP should collaborate with relevant stakeholders including faith-based organizations and civil society organisations, Ministry of Women Affairs and Child Welfare Departments to stem the practice.

Ige appealed to parents and members of extended families to stop FGM, adding that government was more committed to curb the practice and possibly  eradicated in Nigeria.

In his presentation, Mr Bisi Ademola, the Executive Director, Value Re-Orientation for Community Enhancement, an NGO based in Osogbo, said FGM was a serious human abuse, a form of gender-based violence and child abuse.

He said female genital mutilation/cutting involved partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for medical purposes.

Another speaker, Mr Sola Fagorosi, the Executive Director, OneLife for Human Development, also an NGO, urged stakeholders, particularly Muslim and Christian clerics to shun the practice, saying both the Holy Bible or Holy Quran did not support it.

NAN reports that the overall best school in the art competition will get N100,000, while the second position and the third place winner will cart home  N60,000 and N40,000 respectively.

The more than 104 students selected from 15 schools in Oyo State participated in the programme.

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