The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that Imo state now ranks the enviable number one position as the state with the highest prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country.
This revelation was made known by the Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, Enugu Field Office, Victor Atuchukwu while declaring open a training programme for Law Enforcement Agents and Judicial officers, on Imo state Anti-FGM laws held in Ikeduru and Oguta Local Government Areas, Imo state.
According to him, this unhealthy development is a call for action for all to quickly and urgently get to work, enforce the laws that protect the rights and privileges of children, women and girls in the state in respect of the state Female Genital Mutilation (prohibition) law 2017, the state’s Child Rights Law (2004) as well as the National Plan of Action for Orphans and vulnerable children in the country (2013-2020).
According to the UNICEF official, acknowledgeable, committed and strong enforcement and prosecution workforce is critical to implementing the provisions of these protective law and policies.
He recalled that the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in the state had last year in collaboration with the state Ministry of Gender, and Vulnerable Group Affairs and the Health ministry with support from the world body (UNICEF) worked tirelessly with traditional rulers, religious and community leaders and members, male groups and women groups in all the 29 communities in Ikeduru and 24 communities in Oguta Local Government Areas respectively towards appreciating the harmful nature of the obnoxious FGM and as a component of violence against women and girls which eventually yielded the desired results.
“The knowledge gained from this training can be translated into informed actions in collaboration with non-state actors, especially community leaders and stakeholders (who have abandoned this harmful practice and already waiting to work with you to bring perpetrators to book) then we can end FGM in no time towards the achievement of sustainable goal, 5-3, eliminate all harmful practices such as child early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation”.
The Commissioner Gender and Vulnerable Group Affairs, Mrs. Nkechinyere Ugwu in an address regretted that despite constituting the basic force in National development, the rights of women and children are more often than not trampled upon, in spite of governments’ efforts to remedy the ugly trend.
She lamented the harmful effects of FGM which she said is a violation on the rights of women and girls and commended the UNFPA for its significant progress in the state, stating that the FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017 was enacted to provide a legal framework for the campaign even as public Declaration of Abandonemnet (PDAs) of FGM had been achieved in 3 LGAs of the state Ngor Okpala, Ikeduru and Oguta of the 10 focus LGA