From Emmanuel Iyoho
Nigeria accounts for the third-highest global number of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) with a ‘worrying trend’, which has risen from 16.9 percent in 2013 to 19.2 percent, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, has said in a statement.
The statement released recently to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM, as observed by Midweek Pioneer, maintained, “Female genital mutilation (FGM) remains widespread in Nigeria. With an estimated 19.9 million survivors, Nigeria accounts for the third-highest number of women and girls who have undergone FGM worldwide.
“While the national prevalence of FGM among women in Nigeria aged 15-49 dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2018. It increased from 16.9 percent to 19.2 percent in the same period,” Hawkins said.
Lamenting over the rising cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria, Hawkins said the case was prevalent among Nigerian girls aged 0-14 and an estimated 86 percent of females were cut before the age of 5, while 8 percent were cut between ages 5 and 14.
According to him, millions of girls are being robbed of their childhoods, health, education, and aspirations every day by harmful practices such as FGM.
“The practice of FGM not only has no health benefits – it is deeply harmful to girls and women, both physically and psychologically. It is a practice that has no place in our society today and must be ended, as many Nigerian communities have already pledged to do.”
He explained, “State prevalence ranges from 62 percent in Imo to less than 1 percent in Adamawa and Gombe. The prevalence of FGM is highest in the South East (35 percent) and South West (30 percent) and lowest in the North East (6 percent).”
To end the menace, he said, “UNICEF is initiating a community-led movement to eliminate FGM in five Nigerian states where it is highly prevalent, namely Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo.
According to Hawkins, nearly three million girls and women would have undergone FGM in these states in the last five years.
He said UNICEF, in response to the alarming rate of FGM cases in Nigeria, has created a movement called, “The Movement for Good,” aimed to reach five million adolescent girls and boys, women – including especially pregnant and lactating mothers – men, grandparents, and traditional, community and religious leaders, legislators, justice sector actors, and state officials through an online pledge to ‘say no’ to FGM.
Hawkins said the movement would mobilize affected communities for concrete action at the household level to protect girls at risk of FGM, adding that it will challenge misconceptions on FGM and the discriminatory reasons it is practiced and break the silence around the practice together with communities.
Our Correspondent reports that the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM is celebrated to accelerate efforts – especially with families and communities – to achieve a Nigeria safe for girls and women and finally free of FGM.
According to UN Women, female genital mutilation is a form of violence against women and a human rights abuse, which leaves scars that last a lifetime.
It called for collective efforts to protect our girls and end female genital mutilation.