FGM: It’s attack on our sexuality, stakeholders cry out
As the world marks the annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, in the context of COVID-19, with the theme, ‘No Time for Global Inaction: Unite, Fund, and Act to End Female Genital Mutilation.’ the Nigerian government appears indifferent, while the unwholesome practice continues unabated. WO engages stakeholders:
By now, FGM should have ended — Onah Margaret Onah is Executive Director, Safehaven Development Initiative, an NGO based in Lagos and Calabar. She works with vulnerable women, girls, such as sex workers on their human rights, HIV/AIDS, gender violence, and Female Genital Mutilation at grassroots levels. “If I’m going to rate us, I can say we have gone up to 45 per cent.
The Nigerian government does not see Female Genital Mutilation as a serious issue the way they are attacking Covid-19 or HIV. They don’t release money for the work to be done. Most of the funding to end this heinous act against women and girls is donor funds.
“By now, we thought FGM should have ended in Nigeria but there is not enough awareness because of funding. Some communities are aware of the dangers and yet, they still do it. They still believe it is their tradition and their culture. “The UNFPA and UNICEF are the ones that have big and concentrated projects they are doing on FGM and despite that, they are not everywhere.” Policies, UN figures “have policy in Nigeria against FGM, Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, VAPP.
How many states have validated it? Have they ever implemented it? Have you ever heard in a community where somebody was arrested because the person cut the daughter? “When you take such a case to the judiciary, they always postpone the hearing until you get weary. What we need to do is the printing and re-printing of the law in local languages that people will understand and if anyone is caught, the law should get them prosecuted. If this is done, people will sit up.
The highest used to be Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Imo, Ebonyi. Lagos is being used as a control state because each clan and community have family members in Lagos. We believe that those coming from every other state are practising it in Lagos.
I disagree with UN on the prevalence because the South-South states of Cross River State, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta and Edo have high prevalence as well and they are not working in those states.
In those states, when their daughters want to get married, in the night of their bride price payment, they cut them. It is only NGOs that are working there but the government is not doing anything to stop them. Before we went to those communities in Cross River State, every woman had been circumcised.
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