Ebonyi communities pledge to end Female Genital Mutilation

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Ceremonial knives used in FGM/cutting by members of the Bondo society in Sierra Leone.

About 11 communities in Afikpo North Local Government Area (LGA) of Ebonyi state have expressed their readiness and commitment to put an end to the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the area.

The communities’ new disposition was a reaction to the outcome of the United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP) survey, which showed that the area had 70.4 per cent FGM prevalence among women between the ages of 15 and 49.

The State Director of the National Orientation Agency, Dr Emma Abah, made this known on Saturday in Amuro Mgbom, during a public denunciation of FGM by traditional institutions and the people of the area.

Abah said that Afikpo North had the second highest prevalence of FGM in the state after Ohaukwu LGA prevalence of 72.6 per cent.

He said that the communities in the LGA declared commitment to end the unwholesome act because of its consequences.

“Based on the UNJP baseline survey, Afikpo North LGA is the second highest prevalence of 70.4 per cent in the state. Since 2015, UNICEF had supported its partners, NOA, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Global Health Awareness Research Foundation, among others to implement activities at the community and local government levels for intervention,” Abah said.

The NOA boss urged the communities to set a surveillance team in their various communities to ensure total compliance.

He commended UNICEF representative and Chief Field Officer, Enugu, Mr Ibrahim Conte, the Child Protection Specialist, Family Succor and Upliftment Foundation and other state partners for achieving the public declaration.

Conte appealed to the traditional rulers and state government to provide an alternative means of livelihood for those who carry out the act.

“I expect the traditional rulers to come up with laws that will drive the change needed and provide an alternative means of livelihood for those who perform the act to end the phenomenon,” he said.

The Traditional Ruler of Isuoha of Ohaisui, Eze Ewa Elechi, expressed joy that the communities were committed to abandon the practice and pledged to work in that regard to achieve success of the declaration.

Elechi said, “We appreciate the insight and focused contributions of international agencies and NGOs that made this change.”

The Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in the state, Grace Chima, said that section 9 of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law of 2018, “absolutely prohibits the circumcision of a woman and girl child. A person who performs the act or engages another to carry out such practice commits an offence and liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of four years, a fine of N200,000 or both,” Chima said.

The Child Protection Specialist, Mrs Margaret Nworie, and the head of the state Primary Healthcare Agency, Mrs Ngozi Ojinkama, thanked the organizers of the event and tasked the communities on continuous monitoring to deepen commitment for sustenance.

Bilkisu Pai