The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has moved to tackle high rate of female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) in the Southeast describing it as worrisome.
According to the Organization, two states in the Southeast, Ebonyi and Imo states have a high prevalence rate of 61.7 percent and 53.2 percent respectively which is well above the national average of 20 percent.
Unicef Chief of Field office, Enugu, Dr Ibrhim Conteh stated this at a one day dialogue with Journalists/Media practitioners in the region in collaboration with the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) at the Bayview Hotel, Independence Layout Enugu.
The dialogue was part of activities to mark this year’s International Day of Zerp Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) with the theme “Unleashing Youth Power”.
He said that this year’s FGM theme is seeking active participation of youths in the fight against the obnoxious and harmful practice, with huge focus on mobilizing youths for the elimination of harmful FGM practices.
The UNICEF Chief described FGM as a human right violation against girls and women which impacts negatively on their lives.
He said: “It is a harmful practice which has severe health and psychological consequences. It severely affects the rights of women to reproductive health, emotional stability and wellbeing and denies their opportunity to fully utilize their potential socio-economic development of their society.
“The 2018 NDHS reveals that 19 percent of girls )-14 are circumcised. 17 percent of girls are circumcised before their first birthday, FGM among girls is most common among girls whose mothers are cut (56%), whose mothers have no education (24%), and those from the poorest households (27%)”.
“FGM among girls is most commonly performed by a traditional circumciser (82%), while 7 percent are performed by a medical professional. 17 percent of women age 15-49 believe that their religion requires FGM. Two-thirds of women believe that the practice should be stopped”, he added.
Mr Conteh urged stakeholders to accelerate steps towards stopping the practice by adopting coordinated and systematic efforts, promoting policies and positive actions leading to elimination o female genital mutilation, while engaging communities with focus on human rights, gender equality, sexual education and attention to the needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.
Director General of BCA Umuahia, Sir Anyaso Anyaso in his opening remark said FGM comprises of 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, health and integrity of girls and women.
“Girls who undergo female genital mutilation afce short term complications such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine as well as long term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health”, he said.