No fewer than 133 communities in Local Government Areas, LGAs of Imo State have abolished the age-long cultural practice of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, otherwise called female circumcision.

The affected communities with a high prevalence rate of FGM made
public declarations on Abandonment of the harmful cultural practice by their respective traditional rulers and all stakeholders, between December 18, 2019, and November 10, 2020, through the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF and her
partners.

UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh dropped the
cheering information last week in a keynote address he presented on
the occasion of a One-Day Training  and Establishment of 31 ENDFGM
Community Surveillance Team, in Ehime Mbano LGAs organized by National
Orientation Agency, NOA, with the support of UNICEF.

Conteh who gave the list of LGAs and number of communities that publicly abandoned FGM to include; Ikeduru(29), Oguta(24), Owerri West(21), Ngor  Okpala(28), and Ehime Mbano(31) pointed out that the public declarations on abandonment prohibiting the cultural practice were made possible by the intensive campaign/sensitization efforts of UNICEF in partnership with major
stakeholders in the state.

He disclosed that UNICEF Joint Program on ending FGM has been working
in 10 local council areas of Imo State and expressed optimism that with the public abandonment of FGM in the five LGAs, the remaining five council areas of Ohaji/Egbema, Ideato North, Owerri Municipal, Ihitte-Uboma would follow without delay.

Dr. Conteh who was represented by the UNICEF Consultant for Ebonyi and
Imo States, Benjamin Mbakwem  noted that despite the drop in FGM
prevalence among women aged 15-49 years in Imo from 68 percent to 62
percent between 2013 and 2018 the prevalence rate among girls aged
0-14 years rose from 32.3percent to 63percent within the period in
spite of the commitment of UNICEF and government agencies to end the
practice.

Conteh reiterated that FGM practices that “involve injury or alteration to the external genitals of the girl child including pricking, piercing, incision, scraping and cauterization,” have no known health benefits but often puts the victims at immediate risks such as hemorrhage, pain, shock, infection, urination problems, and even death.

The UNICEF Chief disclosed that the training was aimed at building on
the achievements of the UNICEF Joint Programs, UNJP, in Nigeria, end
Violence Against Women and Children, VAWG, increase the update of
Birth Registration services and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

He outlined the roles and responsibilities of the Community Based
Child Protection Committee, CBCPC, and Community Surveillance Team,
CST, to include; briefing the traditional rulers on the outcome of the
training, monitoring, and responding to girls at risk of FGM, reporting
and referral and submission of the report.

Speaking at the occasion, Vitus Ekeocha, Imo State Director of National Orientation Agency, NOA, described female genital mutilation
as violence against the girl child and women adding that the State has
banned the practice through the FGM Prohibition Law 2017.

He advised the participants, who were presidents and secretaries of
women associations of  Ehime Mbano communities, convey the message of
FGM abandonment their members and ensure they comply.

In his goodwill message, HRH Eze Boniface O. I. Onuoha, Traditional
Rulers of Umunakanu Owerre Community in Ehime Mbano LGA thanked UNICEF for working to end FGM saying the level of awareness created in the area made the leaders of the council publicly declare the abandonment.

Eze Onuoha who is the Secretary of Ehime Mbano Council of Ndi-Eze
advised women to put into practice what they have learned maintained
that the prohibition of FGM in the area has taken effect and would
remain to be enforced until it is finally eradicated.

Participants at the training reported that since the public
declaration on the abandonment of FGM a month ago, no case of such
the cultural practice has taken place and added that they would continue
to spread the message of abandonment of FGM in the area.

Two of the participants, Lolo Agnes Chibuzor Njoku, Secretary of Ikpe
Nsu Community Women Association and Mrs. Ndidi Anyaeze from
Umuezeala-Ama Community of Ehime Mbano thanked UNICEF and NOA for the
training assuring that they would carry the message to the grassroots.

 


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