Men have crucial role to play in stopping the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), has said.
Mrs Aderonke Olutayo, UNICEF’s South-West Consultant on FGM, spoke on Wednesday in Ibadan as the world marks the 2019 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Olutayo made the assertion on the sidelines of a formal presentation of Violence Against Women Law 2016 to key stakeholders in Oyo State.
The programme was organised by the state Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Development, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that FGM is a procedure performed on a woman or girl to alter or injure her genitalia for non-medical reason.
The International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM is observed annually on Feb. 6.
Olutayo said: “We have had engagements with religious leaders as well as coalitions of men to ensure that men are involved in the campaign to end FGM in the South-West.
“Men play a key role in the war on FGM because more often times they are the decision-makers, and we have successfully engaged them and winning the fight.
“We have actually achieved a lot because awareness is high now and traditional circumcisers are also abandoning the practice.
“Also, our girls are getting to know their rights and say no to the mutilation of their bodies,” she said.
On the consequences of FGM, Olutayo said that most people who engage in the act were unaware of it; saying the consequences include menstrual problems, chronic genital infections, excessive bleeding, infertility and even death.
“Many don’t know the consequences of the mutilation because it is embedded in social norms and traditional beliefs.
“However, we have raised awareness and increased education on the consequences of FGM, and as a result, communities are shifting their minds and we are winning the war against FGM,” she said.
Olutayo also said that about 305 communities in the South-West Nigeria had abandoned the practice of FGM.
In her remarks at the presentation, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Atinuke Oshokoya, lauded Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, for his role in ensuring the existence of a law which proscribes the practice in the state.
Oshokoya, represented by Mrs Christiania Abioye, the acting Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that enactment of the law had enhanced the war on all forms of violence against women in the state.
“We believe the implementation of the law will go far.
“ Majority of our stakeholders have been advocating for the law that protects our women and girls against any form of violence or abuse since its passage.
“We wish to use this opportunity to commend the Wife of the Governor, Mrs Florence Ajimobi, for her initiative.
“Ajimobi has solicited the support of the lawmakers in the state House of Assembly for a bill which has been successfully passed and signed into law.
“Without the law, there is little or nothing we could have done in matters that exploit and inflict injuries on women and children.
“However, since the governor had signed the bill into law, our ministry has recorded a huge success.
“We have successfully prosecuted those who have violated our women in terms of rape, FGM, child abuse, torture, harmful traditional practices and domestic violence,” Abioye said.
The Law to Prohibit Violence Against Women was assented to by the governor on Jan. 23, 2017.
The law prescribes a four-year jail term and or a fine of N100, 000 on any person who performs female circumcision or FGM.
Copies of the law were presented to the UNICEF, Nigeria Police Force, New Initiative for Social Development, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Education, NSCDC and other relevant stakeholders at the programme.