The Ekiti State Police Command has ordered the arrest and prosecution of those still engaged in Female Genital Mutilation, even as the state leads South-west in prevalence rate.
Even though laws were enacted since 2011 prohibiting the practice, law enforcement agencies have not been responding to advocacy efforts of government and civil society organisations.
But the Commissioner of Police in the State, Morounkeji Adesina, after a sensitisation session on Thursday, ordered his men to commence aggressive manhunt for perpetrators of the act.
Mr Adesina described the act as illegal and a gross violation of human rights.
The anti-FGM law was amended in 2019, stipulating a fine of N200,000 or two years imprisonment for offenders.
In 2013, Ekiti had 72 per cent prevalent rate, but in 2019 it reduced to 57.9 per cent, which was seen as grossly inadequate.
The Commissioner of Police gave the directive in Ado Ekiti, while speaking at a capacity building workshop organised by Hacey Health Initiative for Law Enforcement Officers on Female Genital Mutilation.
The workshop was attended by the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force, Amotekun Corps, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and community leaders.
The CP, represented by the command’s spokesperson, Sunday Abutu, described FGM as a violation of the State’s Child’s Rights Act and the Gender Based Violence and Prohibition Law 2019 as amended, enacted by the state government.
Mr Adesina said the scourge had destroyed many homes and lives, and that security agencies as enforcers of the laws would not allow the illegality to continue in Ekiti unabated.
“This workshop is a welcome development because it deals with stopping Female Genital Mutilation, one of the bad practices in our society,” he said.
“The practice had caused permanent injuries and disabilities to many women , which was unlawful and this must be discouraged.
“From now henceforth, we will put our torch lights out there and monitor the activities of our people. My men should take it as part of their responsibilities to arrest and prosecute offenders.
“But our people should give us information that can help us arrest the perpetrators.”
Expressing regret that no one had been jailed for FGM in Ekiti despite the existing laws, the Coordinator, Reproductive Maternal and Child Health, Ekiti State Ministry of Health, Olukemi Akinleye, said the partnership with the security agencies will change the narratives.
“It is sad that nobody had been arrested or prosecuted. FGM keeps increasing in Ekiti despite the sensitisation by government,” she said.
“The GBV Law and Child’s Rights Act stipulated two years imprisonment for offenders or N200,000 fine or both , and these must be applied to teach offenders a bitter lesson.”
In her presentation, a Lawyer and Chief executive Officer, Gender Relevance Initiative Promotion (GRIP), Rita Ilevbare, described FGM as a socio-cultural menace that can be tackled by virulent enforcement of appropriate laws in place.
“The fact that there is high teenage pregnancy in Ekiti shows that there was no correlation between the belief that cutting female genitalia makes women to be promiscuous,” she submitted.
“Every prosecution starts with arrest. We have had cases of women suffering keloids, painful sexual intercourse, Csiserial Section because of FGM. Why must we practice what is regarded as a violation of the law? If after the series of empowerments by government and the cutters are not ready to stop, then we must apply the laws to deal with them.”
The State Coordinator, Hacey Health Initiative, Oluwanifemi Ayeni, said the workshop was conceptualised to equip the security agencies and stakeholders with knowledge and skills in dealing with issues that relate to violence against persons.
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