UNICEF, Monarchs, Others Declare War on Female Genital Mutilation in Ekiti
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers and other critical stakeholders have urged Governor Kayode Fayemi to ensure diligent prosecution and conviction of female genital mutilators in the state.
The stakeholders, which also included the market women, religious leaders, students and top government functionaries, agreed that the practice had damaged the reproductive health of many Nigerians and destroyed their marriages.
The stakeholders made the call in Ado Ekiti at the weekend during a one-day workshop organised by UNICEF in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Information on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
A South-west UNICEF FGM Consultant, Mrs Oluronke Adetayo, who rued the practice, urged Fayemi to do everything possible to stop violence against girl child using the instrumentalities of governance and law.
Adetayo added that Ekiti has the highest prevalent rate in the South-west, having overtaken Osun that was leading in 2013, with Imo State rated highest in Nigeria.
“No force can come from Abuja and stop FGM in Ekiti, except the locals themselves led by our traditional rulers, religious leaders, market men and women, women groups and students to stop this harmful practice. We must apply the laws and deal with those engaging in the practice.
“In 2013, Ekiti has 72 per cent prevalent rate, but in 2019, it has reduced to 57.9 per cent, which was not enough. We still have to work harder”.
The Executive Secretary, Ekiti State Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Adegboyega Morakinyo, revealed that the state had enacted anti-FGM law since 2011, which was amended in 2019, saying the statute stipulates a fine of N200,000 or one year imprisonment for offenders.
“The law is in place and we have gazetted it and we will make it available to all organisations. It prohibits both the parents and cutters from engaging in the act and whoever flouts it would have himself to blame,” he warned.
Speaking against the backdrop of the high FGM in Ekiti, the Onisan of Isan Ekiti and Chairman, Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Gabriel Adejuwon, said the established myth that any girl who doesn’t do it would be promiscuous, had no scientific proof, saying it was meant to create fear in people’s minds.
“This is a very deadly and harmful practice. Some of the materials used for cutting by these practitioners were locally made and not sterilised. Some were infected with diseases, some bled to death; some became barren from there; so, it is harmful and we have to stop it”.
Oba Adejumo urged the government to reinforce action for prosecution of offenders, the way they have been tightening noise against those engaging in sexual abuse, particularly rape.
The monarch appealed to stakeholders to sensitise the people at the local level about the evils inherent in the harmful practice, saying some were still indulging in the pernicious act due to ignorance.
“After that sensitisation, we will go into enforcement and that is where the traditional rulers, government and market men and women will be useful. We must stop this practice at all cost. There is no gain in it.”