From Angela Mbaocha
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Monday said that Ebonyi state has dropped from 2nd to 3rd in south east, in Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) ranking.
It stated this in Ishielu local government area of Ebonyi State, during an advocacy dialogue with religious leaders to end FGM in 15 communities of the area.
The advocacy program was organized by the state National Orientation Agency (NOA), with support from UNICEF.
UNICEF was represented at the event by Dr. Emmanuel Abah, the State Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), who disclosed that the prevalence of FGM in Nigeria and Ebonyi State, according to the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2013 and 2018) has dropped,
According to Abah, Ebonyi State which used to rank 2nd in south east in FGM was now third. He attributed its success to various public declarations by communities in the Ebonyi State against the practice.
Abah noted that, “Ebonyi State dropped from 74.2% (2013) to 53.2% (2018)- Third Highest in Nigeria”, even as he was optimistic that with the engagement of religious leaders, Ebonyi will continue to rate low in the ugly practice.
He advised parents to protect their children and wards from their grandmothers who have refused to quit the practice, stating, “Yes, today is a good day because all the churches and religious leaders in Ishielu local government have come together to agree to end FGM in Ishielu and they have agreed to put it in all the platforms existing in the churches to make sure this obnoxious practice is stopped.
On further reduction of FGM in the State, Abah noted, “They have seen that the practice is not good and it is not beneficial as they have said it and they have keyed into the campaign. I think this will lead to the end of FGM in Ishielu.
“This is on-going. Remember we use to be second, we have moved now to third, look at the percentage. The Imo State that used to be third is now second so by the time we finish the declaration we will make additional head way. The more declaration you make, the more your rating increases. FGM has gone down from about 70% to 50%, which indicates that enormous work has been done.
“To parents, they must take care of this responsibility because they are the people who own these children and the people who advocate for FGM and the people who engage in it. It is a social norm which we are fighting so hard to ensure that the community collectively agreed to abandon the ugly practice. Parents should guide against grandmothers and in laws taking their children for cutting, with this, our number will continue to reduce.”
In a communiqué, the religious leaders agreed to include EndFGM campaign in church activities, identify and protect girls at risk of FGM in Ishielu and impose fine on any church member caught in the act.