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April 23, 2024
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Stakeholders laud UNICEF’s interventions to end FGM in Imo

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By Victor Nwachukwu

Some stakeholders in Imo have lauded the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for its sustained community interventions to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the state.

The stakeholders spoke to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ahiazu and Ezinihitte Mbaise council areas of Imo on Tuesday, as part of activities marking the 2024 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Annually celebrated around the world on Feb. 6 to raise awareness about the ills of the practice, FGM comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights, health and integrity of girls and women.

The celebration of the day is therefore, an opportunity for stakeholders involved in ending FGM to celebrate achievements, advocate for the abandonment of the practice.

The theme for year 2024 is: “Her Voice. Her Future.”

The NAN correspondent who visited the Imo local government areas on Tuesday, reports that critical stakeholders said they had embraced the campaign to end the practice.

The Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers in Ahiazu Mbaise, Eze Sabinus Nwaneche, thanked UNICEF for its sustained commitment to community dialogue towards ending the menace.

Nwaneche said that his people have become properly enlightened about the long-term health and psychological implications of FGM, adding that women and female children have started showing strong commitment to end the olden days’ practice.

He said that in line with an agreement reached in November 2020 by community stakeholders to end FGM in the area,
a surveillance system was introduced to track the birth of every girl-child.

The royal father said the measure was to ensure that the girl-child was not subjected to genital mutilation.

He added that “we have been sensitised about the consequences of FGM, and this has awakened our consciousness and commitment to abolish the practice.”

Also, the Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers in Ezinihitte Mbaise, Eze Ositadinma Nwokocha, thanked UNICEF and its support partners for efforts to end the sufferings of the girl child in the area.

He said that representatives of five communities met at the local government area headquarters in Itu in November 2023, where they adopted a policy statement to guide the actions of the people and support the #EndFGM campaign.

According to Nwokocha, the fight against FGM in the area has started and will continue until it is eradicated.

The Sole Administrator of Ahiazu Local Government Area, Chief Tony Anakani, was also full of praises for UNICEF, and pledged readiness to collaborate with the organisation to advocate an end to FGM and other forms of violence against women and girls.

A cleric, Mr Jerry Atuzie, said many persons practiced FGM out of ignorance of its social and health implications.

He identified some of the implications as marital instability and excessive bleeding, which could result to death.

He said “some promoters of the practice claim that it reduces promiscuity among girls but with proper enlightenment by UNICEF and its partners, we now know better.”

The Imo Coordinator, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Mrs Ngozi Ejike, also thanked UNICEF and the Imo Government for supporting the enactment of the Imo Child Rights Law (2014) and the Imo FGM Prohibition Law No. 006 of 2017.

She said the laws created the enabling environment for speedy dispensation of justice against FGM.

NAN reports that Mr Victor Atuchukwu, the Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, Enugu Field Office, said at a recent townhall, in collaboration with support partners, that UNICEF would continue to campaign against the practice.

NAN also reports that UNICEF has held several advocacy and sensitisation programmes in different LGAs of the state, including Ahiazu and Ezinihitte Mbaise, where the practice is said to be prevalent. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Abiemwense Moru/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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