By Victor Nwachukwu
Owerri, Feb. 7, 2022 (NAN) The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called for accelerated social investments to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The Officer in Charge of UNICEF’s Enugu Field Office, Mrs Maureen Zubie-Okolo, said this while addressing newsmen in Owerri on Monday to mark the year 2022 International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM.
The Day is set aside by the UN with the aim of amplifying and directing efforts on the elimination of FGM.
Speaking on the year’s theme: ‘Accelerating Investment to end Female Genital Mutilation’, Zubie-Okolo, represented by UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist, Enugu Field Office, Mr Victor Atuchukwu said that there were no proven health benefits of the practice.
She noted that over four million girls were at risk of genital mutilation even as COVID-19 disruptions could add two million cases of FGM by year 2030.
” Nigeria accounts for the third highest number of women and girls who have undergone FGM worldwide with an estimated 19.9million survivors and state prevalence ranging from 62 per cent in Imo to less than one per cent in Adamawa and Gombe.
” The prevalence of FGM is highest in the South-East (35 per cent) and South-West (30 per cent), a situation which prompted UNICEF to initiate a community-led movement to eliminate FGM in highly prevalent states of Imo, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo.
” This Day reminds us that we need to accelerate efforts especially with families and communities to achieve a safe Nigeria for girls and women who are robbed of their childhoods, health and aspirations by harmful practices such as FGM”, she said.
Speaking, Director-General of BCA, Mr Anyaso Anyaso called for collective investment of human and other resources in the fight against FGM so as to enable the female folk to fully utilise their potential to socio-economic development of society.
Anyaso represented by Mr Okezie Nkpa, a senior staff of BCA, said that an end to FGM will mean an end to its “severe health and psychological consequences”.
In another presentation, Atuchukwu decried the spate of FGM in the South-East geo-political zone of Nigeria adding that the world could save over one billion USD annually if FGM was eliminated.
He urged state governments to key into UNICEF’s intervention strategies such as establishment of community-based child protection facilities and consensus building towards FGM abandonment.
” It is worthy of note that all South-East states have domesticated the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act hence the need to build consensus, establish grassroots technical committees with a view to ending FGM”, he said.
Earlier in an address, UNICEF’s Communication Officer, Enugu Field Office, Mrs Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe called on journalists to make social investments by developing action plans capable of desensitising communities from FGM.
Also, Barr Ijeoma Mike-Ajanwachukwu, a resource person, harped on the need for accelerated media awareness on FGM as a way of increasing impact of public sensitisation on FGM. (NAN)