*Seeks youth active participation in fight against scourge
From Steve Oko, Umuahia
The United Nations Education Fund, UNICEF, has expressed concern over the high prevalence rate of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM in Imo and Ebonyi States.
According to UNICEF, the rate of the obnoxious practice in both states is 53.2% , and 61.7% respectively, far above the national prevalence rate of 20%.
UNICEF Chief of Field Officer in charge of South South zone, Dr. Ibrahim Konteh who disclosed this at a media dialogue on FGM practice for media practitioners in the zone, called for collaboration among stakeholders to end the practice.
The event organised in partnership with the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia, BCA, was part of activities marking the 2020 International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.
The UNICEF boss therefore sought active youths’ participation in the fight against the harmful practice.
Konteh who frowned at the practice described FGM as serious human right violation against girls and women.
His words : “It’s a practice which has severe health and psychological consequences. It severely affects the rights of women to reproductive health, emotional stability and well -being and denies their opportunity to fully utilise their potential to socio-economic development of their society”.
UNICEF said FGM comprised all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non -medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights, the health and the integrity of girls and women.
According to UNICEF, girls who undergo female genital mutilation face complications such as infections, excessive bleeding, difficulties in passing urine, pains during sexual intercourse and child birth.
The UNICEF boss said research had proved there were no positive benefits derivable from FGM, rather the practice constituted serious health risk to victims.
Konteh who advocated the inclusion of awareness campaign against FGM in school curriculum however expressed delight with the compliance level in Anambra, Enugu and Abia States where he said the practice had significantly reduced.
He urged stakeholders to step up measures towards eradicating the practice and save women the ills associated with it.
Earlier in his address, the Director General of BCA, Mr. Anyaso Anyaso, strongly condemned FGM, describing it as “a gross abuse of abuse of a female child “.
Anyaso tasked the media to increase efforts in the war against the practice which he noted posed risk to women and the girl child.
The event which was attended by students and representatives of Youth Parliament also featured lectures and presentations from experts.
One of the resource persons, Dr. Hilary Ozor, identified tradition and religious beliefs as part of the reasons for the perpetration of the practice, arguing that contrary to beliefs in some quarters, cutting of female genitalia is no antidote to promiscuity.