Traditional rulers in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State on Wednesday came out in their numbers to publicly denounce Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and threatened to sanction practitioners of the act.
The event, which took place at the Orlu Council headquarters, had traditional rulers of the 35 communities of the area in attendance.
Addressing the gathering, the state Commissioner for Gender and Vulnerable Groups, Nkeiruka Ibekwe, said the occasion was unique as it was aimed at stamping out inhuman treatment being meted on the girl child and women folks.
She said the local government was making history by belonging to the foremost local government areas to come out publicly to condemn the harmful practice in Orlu.
“We are here to sign the pact and make it public that the entire Orlu LGA has outlawed the practice of Female Genital Mutilation and will henceforth mete the appropriate punishment to anyone caught indulging in the practice.
“This singular action today will go a long way to improve the rating of Orlu LGA among the committee of civilised LGAs where the fundamental human rights of every citizen is respected and protected.
“Through the repeated aggressive campaigns in the mass media and other methods, we all are now aware that FGM is a harmful ancient practice in some climes where a part or the whole of the external female genitalia are removed or injured for non-medical reasons,” she said.
The commissioner, while thanking the development partners, urged women to work together to end FGM by reporting offenders to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
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“I wish to, therefore, encourage all of us to remain resolute in our avowed commitment to ending this de-humanising action against the girl child and entire womenfolk.
“As committed stakeholders, we should look out for and not hesitate to report to the appropriate authorities any violation to this general resolution for the appropriate punishment/sanction to be metted against such individual, group or groups.
“I wish to thank our partners, UNFPA, for supporting us in the campaign to end FGM in the generation,” she said.
In a document read out by C. O Ihemegwo, the consensus of Orlu traditional rulers, they said they realised the negative and psycho-social consequences of FGM on the girl child and acknowledged that after several community dialogues and consensus-building meetings that “FGM is a gross violation of the rights of girls and women.”
The document read in part, “On this day, 17th December 2019, we publicly declare that Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, has ceased to be a culture and tradition of the people of Isiala – Amaifeke Community in Orlu LGA.
“To leave our girls and women intact because their beauty is preserved when they remain the way God created them.
“To re-enforce this commitment, our slogan shall remain “Odi Nma Nwanyi Bu ka Chi Siri Kee Ya” (The beauty of a woman is how God created her).
” To set up surveillance systems in each community that will track the birth of every girl child and monitor them to ensure that they are not subjected to FGM.
“To hand over any community member who engages in FGM to law enforcement agencies for prosecution in accordance with Imo state Female Genital Mutilation Prohibition Law of 2017 or any other law prohibiting the practice in the state.
“Based on this public declaration, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation is now forbidden in Isiala Amaifeke, Orlu LGA, Imo state.
“We, hereby, urge everyone present today to publicise this decision to all sons and daughters of Isiala Amaifeke as well as our friends and well-wishers in Imo State and beyond.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the traditional rulers appended their signatures to the document.
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