Twenty-two communities in IhitteUboma Local Government Area of Imo State on Thursday, declared an end to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the area.
The Chairman of Imo traditional institution in IhitteUboma, Jude Uwalaka, made the declaration for the abandonment of FGM in the local government area.
The traditional ruler said the declaration was in line with the state’s anti FGM law (2017).
Mr Uwalaka thanked the support partners, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for their “enduring solidarity to the course”.
He said anyone who violated the law would be duly prosecuted and punished as a deterrent to intending perpetrators.
“We, the 22 communities in IhitteUboma have reached a consensus to declare on this day that FGM is prohibited and abolished from our land in accordance with the Imo anti FGM law (2017).
“As law abiding citizens, we shall hand over for prosecution anyone who flaunts this declaration as the practice is now prohibited in IhitteUboma,” the traditional ruler said.
The UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Enugu, Ibrahim Conteh, lauded the communities for taking the decision, saying it was a demonstration of civil obedience and adherence to extant laws.
Mr Conteh, who was represented by Benjamin Mbakwem, a UNICEF consultant for FGM in Imo and Ebonyi states, described the practice as a component of violence against women and girls.
He commended the communities for taking what he described as a “bold step”, while urging the leaders to sustain the momentum.
“We have been supporting the implementing partners through advocacy and community mobilisation to enhance social norms for the abandonment of FGM, and today we are most elated that the results are positive.
“UNICEF is in solidarity with the 22 communities of IhitteUboma and we kindly urge that this momentum be maintained and the resolutions sustainably implemented,” he said.
Also speaking, the NOA director in Imo, Vitus Ekeocha, described the declaration as the most decisive step by the communities in the campaign to end FGM and commended them for their collective willingness.
“What we are witnessing here today is the outcome of various engagements and advocacy meetings with critical stakeholders on the negative health and psycho-social consequences of FGM on the female folk.
“This public declaration marks a great milestone in the history of Ihitte Uboma people and we commend the traditional rulers, religious, youths and women leaders for this step in the right direction,” he said.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs in the state, Nkechinyere Ugwu, appealed to residents of the communities to remain law abiding and fight FGM until the end.
The Chairman of the local government area, Chike Omemgbe, thanked the support partners for their cooperation and pledged to establish a taskforce to monitor implementation of the declaration.
The event was attended by representatives of the 22 communities in the local government area, traditional and religious leaders.
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