As the country joined to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting(FGM/C) on Saturday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) lamented that an estimated 19.9 million Nigerian women have undergone the practice. The number approximately represents 16 per cent of 125 million FGM/C survivors globally.
UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist, Maryam Enyiazu who stated this at a two-day UNICEF media dialogue, titled: ”Media partnership towards female genital mutilation/cutting abandonment in Nigeria” noted that 82 per cent of women in Nigeria undergo FGM before age five.
“However, due to its large population, Nigeria has the third highest number of women and girls (19.9 million) who have undergone FGM/C worldwide, after Egypt and Ethiopia,”she said.
According to her: “FGM is more prevalent in the southern zones than in the northern zones. States with the highest prevalence Osun (77 per cent), Ebonyi (74 per cent) , Ekiti (72 per cent), Imo (68 per cent) and Oyo (66 per cent)”
UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist also observed that those promoting the practice are mainly grandmothers and mother-in-laws. Although, majority of men and women prefer the practice of FGM to be discontinued, it remains a major problem within specific communities, Enyiazu said.
Gender Analyst, United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA), Damilola Obinna,during a presentation on female genital cutting and the female child said, FGM violates the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and women.
According to her, girls and women that have undergone FGM are 70 per cent more likely to suffer hemorrhage after giving birth and are twice as likely to die during childbirth.
The President, Inter-African Committee (IAC), on FGM, Professor Modupe Onadeko, said there was need for the federal government to take responsibility, create political support and raise awareness to end FGM.
Prof.Onadeko who advocated for relevant laws on FGM to be domesticated called for community involvement to ensure the right platform was created.
UNICEF, Chief Of Communication,Doune Porter called for the support of the media to end FGM in Nigeria.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on February 11, 2016.