NGOs Urge Nigerian Govts,Citizens To Stop All Forms Of FGM

….as CEE-HOPE Nigeria and Hearts100 organise seminar to mark 2023 International Day of Zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

Executive Director, Women’s Rights and Health Project, Lagos, Bose Ironsi speaking at the event

Governments in Nigeria have been urged to criminalise “Female Genital Mutilation”, FGM, and ensure that anyone caught perpetrating the dangerous act is punished according to law.

The Executive Director, Women’s Rights and Health Project, Lagos, Bose Ironsi made the call at a seminar to mark 2023 International Day of Zero tolerance for FGM.

Held on Monday at the International Press Centre, Ogba, Ikeja ,the event was attended mainly by residents from some underserved communities in Lagos including Monkey Village, Opebi; Makoko, Yaba and Ifelodun as well as Agege.

Executive Director, CEE-HOPE Nigeria, Betty Abah speaking at the event

In her remark, Mrs. Ironsi said the essence of the seminar was to increase awareness on the need for zero female genital mutilation in Nigeria.

According to her, the nation already has a law prohibiting the practice and it behoves on the authorities to enforce the law.

Mrs. Ironsi noted that Female Genital Mutilation, has no benefit, rather it leaves the victims with lifetime devastating consequences.

She observed that while awareness on the issue has significantly led to reduction in the practice across the country, some people still secretly carry it out.

Mrs. Ironsi therefore called on all and sundry to unite in fishing out all those that have continued to subject the women folks to such torture in the name of circumcision, while they face necessary legal actions.

In her words;
“The International Day of Zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is to create awareness and sensitize the general public about what is still ongoing when it comes to issues of circumcising females.

“I know that Nigeria is still ranking very high in terms of the prevalence of female genital mutilation. A lot has also been done because there are a lot of people that are no longer practising it.

“The Federal Government has passed a law under the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of which female genital mutilation is among. But we find out that people are no longer doing it openly. They have decided to go underground.

“A lot of sensitization has gone as in changing the mindset of people on why they should not stop the practice. Because if you really look at it, there is no medical reason why female genital mutilation should be done”.

Male participation at the event was in line with the theme of the celebration aimed at making men integral part of the advocacy on zero female genital mutilation.

Ironsi explained further;

The theme of this year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is PARTNERSHIP WITH MEN AND BOYS TO TRANSFORM SOCIAL AND GENDER NORMS TO END FGM.

“We should engage the boys and men in ending the violence against women when it comes to issues of female genital mutilation.

“We want them to know that the critical reason they circumcise women is to stop ladies from enjoying sex and to succeed, they bring some superstitions.

“This practice has no bearing with virginity. Rather it causes more problems. Let them know that circumcising women has no medical benefits. Instead, it brings pain, health challenges and even depression. Some of them have died as a result of it. Some are having issues in terms of even allowing men to touch them because they always remember the pain.

” Let men be the ones that advocate against FGM. Let them insist that they will rather marry women that are uncircumcised”.

She urged Nigerians in all parts of the country to do away with any superstitions surrounding female female circumcision, saying they are false and targeted at increasing violence against women.

Some of the participants in their submissions tearfully reeled out a number of superstitions surrounding female circumcision that have made it difficult for the practice to be completely eradicated.

For instance, some were made to believe that uncircumcised women will not live above 40 years especially if the affected people still remain single at that age.

Some said they were told that if not circumcised, the clitoris will grow non-stop for the rest of their lives.

There was also a superstition that if the tip of the clitoris touches the head of the baby during childbirth, the baby would die.

Majority of the respondents said the major reason for circumcising girls was to tame their sexual urge and stop them from being promiscuous.

On her part, the Executive Director of a non-governmental organization CEE-HOPE Nigeria, Betty Abah noted with displeasure that FGM has the tendency to make a woman to become even more promiscuous.

Abah who described FGM as a crime against humanity especially women and girls, said studies have shown that so many woman die annually from complications and infections as a result of the practice.

She stated that some of the victims contracted life threatening diseases and infections including HIV/AIDS after being circumcised with infected objects.

The speakers said men can contribute by insisting that they would only marry women that are uncircumcised.

The seminar was organised by NGOs CEE-HOPE Nigeria and Hearts100 under the theme: Partnership with men and boys to transform social and gender norms to end FGM

School children from Makoko performing at the event
Participants in group photograph

Men and boys during photo session
Some school children with the bags shared at the occasions bearing the inscription, “Female Genital Mutilation Debase our women and girls. Cut out the culture now!”

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is a United Nations-sponsored annual awareness day that takes place on February 6 as part of the UN’s efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation. It was first introduced in 2003.

By Innocent Onoh (+2348034158834)

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