The United Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged state governments to have a comprehensive legislation to criminalise female genital mutilation (FGM) and ensure strict enforcement to serve as deterrent.Speaking at the launch of “End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting” organised by the wife of Imo Governor, Mrs Nkechi Okorocha, in Owerri, the Chief of Field Office UNICEF ‘A’, Mr. Charles Nzuki, urged the governments to also revisit the Violence against Persons Prohibition Bill.
He said that state governments should further demonstrate political will by ensuring budgetary allocation and release of financial resources through dedicated budget lines in the relevant ministries.
Nzuki said that Imo had the fourth highest mutilation prevalence rate in the country, adding that the programme provided an excellent opportunity for the government and the people, with development partners to end it.
He said that Nigeria must abandon FGM as it was one of the reasons women died during childbirth and suffer from Vesico Virginal Fistula, painful menstruation and sexual intercourse.
Nzuki said that through FGM, women were also exposed to life-threatening infections such as HIV and tetanus, among others.
In his address, Gov. Rochas Okorocha expressed shock that Imo was among the states that had the highest prevalence of FGM.
Okorocha said the country’s constitution abhorred obnoxious practices against women and children.
He said that any cultural and traditional practices that encouraged primitive and unwholesome attitude must be discarded.
Okorocha pledged the support of his government to any move to stop the practice and called on all to rise to the occasion to ensure that Imo was removed from the list of states still practicing FGM.
Bishop Stanford Nwaorgu of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) observed that there was no scriptural backing to female circumcision.
Nwaorgu said the practice was outdated and an act of ignorance and therefore must be stopped.
He said the churches in the state would partner with the governor’s wife to ensure the practice no longer existed.
On her part, Mrs Okorocha appointed the “End FGM Ambassadors” in the 27 local government areas of the state, the 305 wards and 3,523 booth ambassadors.
The Chairman of Imo Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Samuel Ohiri, the Speaker of the Imo assembly, Mr Acho Ihim and the representative of Imo Police Commissioner, Mr Andrew Enwerem, pledged total support to eradication of FGM and enforcement of enabling laws.