Efforts at eradicating the female genital mutilation, FGM, in Osun received a boost on Tuesday as 12 communities across four local governments declared their intentions to completely stop the practice.
The declaration was made at the Female Mutilation Abandonment Declaration Ceremony organised by the Shericare Foundation, SCARF, an initiative of the wife of the governor, Sherifat Aregbesola.
The communities that declared against FMG include Eko Ende, Eko Ajala, Iba, Asa, Iwo Oke, Ajagunlase, Alapata, Owode, Araromi in Ifelodun, Olaoluwa, Ede North and Orolu Logal Governments of the state.
The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, in its report on FGM, said that Osun State still ranked highest in the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation practice in Nigeria with over 76.3 per cent.
The UN said the practice was high in the South-West in spite of the geo-political zone’s high literacy and awareness rate.
According to the report, Osun had 76.3 per cent prevalence rate, Ekiti had 71.2, Oyo, 69.7; Ebonyi, 55.6; Imo, 48.8; and Lagos, 44.8.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola described Female Genital Mutilation, a cultural practice of removing part of the female genital either as a customary rite of initiation into womanhood or as a check against promiscuity, as harmful.
He said that the harmful practice according to UNICEF is prevalent in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia.
“According to a February 2016 report by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), there are records for 27 countries in Africa, including Somalia (96 per cent), Guinea (97 per cent), Djibouti (93 per cent), Egypt (91 per cent) and Sierra Leone (90 per cent) still practising FGM. From this same report, we learnt that as of 2013, 27.2 million women had undergone FGM in Egypt, 23.8 million in Ethiopia, and 20 million in Nigeria. In Indonesia, the prevalence rate for children under 11 years is 49 per cent, translating to 13.4 million,” the governor stated.
“In Nigeria, six states top the list of where the practice is prevalent. These are Osun, Ekiti, Oyo, Ebonyi, Imo and Lagos. FGM is deeply rooted in culture but flies in the face of common sense, decency, basic health and human right.
“The crux of this advocacy is to expunge it from our belief system. I am glad that we have the cooperation of our traditional rulers, religious leaders, community leaders and aficionados of arts and culture.
“The core changes must include that: one, it is no longer necessary as a cultural requirement, two, that it is indeed harmful and cruel physically and psychologically. The victims, we must note, are our daughters, sisters, aunties, cousins, nieces, wives and mothers.
“I do not see any other category closer and dearer to us than these and therefore do not deserve to be subjected to this hurtful practice any longer.”
The president of the Foundation, Mrs. Aregbesola, reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to achieving zero tolerance on Female Genital Mutilation/Circumcision in the state.
She said the Foundation had engaged in many activities towards boosting the awareness campaigns to end the harmful effects of Female Genital Mutilation and Circumcision in every nook and cranny of the state.
She further said her foundation had also committed itself to intensive advocacy to eradicate the traditional practice of FGM in the state through regular interface with a number of communities, public sensitisation, jingles sponsorship on radio, television stations as well as printing and circulation of the state law which makes it illegal for anyone to circumcise any female child or any woman in the state.
“The journey to today’s event started early 2015 when a team of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) officials visited our state as the meeting afforded us the opportunity to appreciate the necessity of collective efforts to wage an intensive and comprehensive awareness campaign on the dangers that continued practice of female circumcision bear for our female children, our women and our people in general,” she explained.
“It is true that the practice of female circumcision was rooted in traditional and religious beliefs, but scientific findings have revealed that such beliefs are injurious to life.”
Mrs. Aregbesola attributed the public declaration of abandonment of FGM by twelve communities in the state as a manifestation of the efforts being made by the Foundation to abolish the menace.
She therefore appealed to the residents in the state to always abstain from the acts, saying female circumcision does not bear any positive fruit but rather a basket of dangers and sometimes death to the women.
Earlier, the guest speaker and the Head of Lagos Liaison Office, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Omolaso Omosehin, commended Governor Aregbesola for his continued support towards eradication of Female Genital Mutilation in the state.
He said the contribution of the state government had impacted positively towards putting an end to Female Genital Mutilation.
He described the occasion as timely, saying the forum was a reflection of symbolic commitment demonstrated by the state government of Osun to end Female Genital Mutilation and other forms of harmful traditional practices that impact negatively on women and girls.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...