Friday, November 20, 2015

First ladies lead campaign against female genital mutilation in Nigeria

Worried by the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, FGMC in Nigeria especially in the Southwest, stakeholders last week at two different workshops in Osogbo and Ilupeju met to discuss the situation. The issue of female circumcision which has been an age long tradition has for sometimes been a serious concern to the government and health practitioners but took a centre stage in the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan had signed into law the stoppage of the traditional practice. The wife of Osun State governor and the initiator of Sherif Care Foundation, SCARF, Mrs Sherifat Aregbesola gathered some state governors’ wives and Unicef representatives in Osogbo where the matter was thoroughly discussed. While the workshop in Osogbo was going on, journalists from Ekiti, Osun and Oyo states were at Ilupeju in Ekiti State for training on how to end the practice through public sensitisation and enlightenment against FGMC. The United Nations International Children’s Fund UNICEF, health experts and media practitioners at the workshop appealed to Nigerians to desist from the practice, saying it is harmful and deadly.
A representative of UNICEF, Mrs. Roseleen Akinroye, said the practice should be stopped because it leads to life threatening experience for women during childbirth. She condemned some medical professionals who engage in the practice, saying it is unacceptable. Akinroye, who is a Child Protection Specialist, said: “This harmful practice is unacceptable and should not be encouraged by anybody under any guise. Total abandonment of the practice should be preached by all.” The Osun State Coordinator of Inter African Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices, Mrs. Aduke Obelawo, said it was worrisome that some medical workers engaged in female circumcision. A Consultant on Reproductive and Family Health, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Prof. Dupe Onadeko, also charged parents to desist from the act. The health expert said the practice was found to be an ineffective means of preventing promiscuity among ladies. She said the harmful practice had been found to be highly ineffective to curb promiscuity and should be stopped because of its numerous adverse effects on health. She stated that the prevalence of FGMC is very high in Osun, Ekiti and Oyo States, stressing that this practice should be discarded because it does not prevent the vice which many taught it prevents. Onadeko said, “99 per cent of prostitutes are circumcised. This is from a survey carried out among prostitutes. So, the belief that this practice curbs prostitution is erroneous. “We need First Ladies to be at the fore front of the campaign to curb FGMC. They are influential persons who many look up to. I think they should be the champions in the campaign against this harmful practice.” Onadeko lauded Ekiti and Osun States for putting up legislation to stop the practice while urging Oyo to speed up the process of legislating against it. Participants at the seminar also appealed to parents and guardians not to be swayed by the mythical beliefs of local circumcisers.

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