Wednesday, February 10, 2016 6:02 am
Wife of Nigeria’s President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has called on relevant stakeholders to create awareness on the health implications of female genital mutilation in the country.
Mrs Buhari was represented by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, at the launch of joint UNFPA/UNICEF to support programme to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country.
Aisha said that FGM was a harmful practice that had negative, social and economic consequences in the lives of the effected women and girls.
“It is disheartening to note that Nigeria has the highest prevalence of FGM in the continent.
It is a cultural practice which does not have help or social benefit to women, girls and to the society at large.
She said it had not been promoted by any religion as no instrument of the two religions had supported FGM.
She called on Nigerians to work toward an action that would end FGM and any tradition harmful to women and children.
“Some actions of the Federal Government and development partners have led to abandonment of the FGM practice.
”These efforts are being guarded by concert evidence and data from research effort by the government and partners.
She commended the effort of development partners, international organisations for their continued support to end FGM and harmful traditional practice.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, urged journalists to increase coverage of FMG to end the harmful practice in the country.
“In the campaign to end FGM/cutting, the journalist has multiplicity of roles to play, including the link between government, policy makers and the people.
“In other words, the journalist is at the core of the kind of two-day communication that can lead to the effective abandonment of the practice.
“The media is a veritable tool for information dissemination, and the journalist is key to interpreting and relating information in a manner that produces the expected reaction or behaviour from audience.”
He said the key to changing behaviour in order to end FGM/cutting is adequate information dissemination about the prevalence, the root causes and attitude that put women at risk of being cut.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, expressed regret that in spite of all the declaration by international agencies to eliminate all harm practice, FGM still persisted in Africa.
She said that Nigeria as a country would put all the necessary measures in place to end the practice.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that almost 20 million women aged between 15 to 49 years were estimated to have undergone FGM in the country.
He said that National Demographic Health Survey data had indicated that the trend of the practice in the South-West, South-East and South-South zones was higher than any part of the country.
“Osun reported the highest FGM prevalence rate of 77 per cent in 2013, followed by 74 per cent in Ebonyi and 72 per cent in Ekiti.
He said that punishment for offenders had been outlined in the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015, making FGM now punishable by law.
The UNFPA Country Resident Representative, Mrs Ratidzai Ndhlovu, urged the Federal Government, state governments, private sector, development partners and individuals to support programmes that would end the practice.
“It has become increasingly critical to consider adopting proactive actions to end FGM as the practice seems to be on steady increase in some part of the country,’’ she said.
The UNICEF Country Representative, Mrs Jean Gough, says one in every four women in many communities across the country experienced FGM.
She commended Mrs Buhari for leading the campaign for zero tolerance against the practice in the country.
“It is a violent and harmful practice that can scare girls for life, physical and psychologically.