The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has praised the commitments of states in the South-east of the country in stopping Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Dr Ibrahim Conte, the UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Enugu, disclosed this during a press conference in Enugu on Friday in commemoration of the 2021 FGM Day.
Conte said that it was gratifying that the combined efforts of UNICEF and other organisations had remained effective in spurring commitments of stakeholders to stem the tide.
He said that though Imo and Ebonyi had a high FGM prevalence of 61.7 per cent and 53.2 per cent respectively in the region, adding that there was steady awareness to reduce the numbers.
Conte said the commitments of the organisation toward eradication FGM had led to positive actions and responses by state and non-state actors.
“It is the responsibility of UNICEF to bring such issues and the need to curb them to the notice of government, community gatekeepers and other stakeholders.
“The intervention of UNICEF to that regard led to the enactment of legal frameworks in the two South East states which had lowered the figures.
“Prior to the enforcement of the legal framework to stop FGM in Imo in 2017, the state which ranked first in the South East had 68 per cent prevalence rate which dropped to 62 per cent after the 2018 NDHS.’’
Conte said prior to the coming into force of the FGM legal framework in Ebonyi in 2018, the state had 74 per cent prevalence rate, which dropped to 53 per cent after the 2018 survey.
The UNICEF chief gave the FGM prevalence in other states in the region as follows: Abia (12 per cent), Anambra (21 per cent) and Enugu (25 per cent).
He said that FGM was widespread in the country with a national prevalence of 19.5 per cent among women aged 15 to 49 and 19.2 per cent among girls aged zero to 14.
He said that the statistics were according to the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), 2018.
“This translates into a population of women and girls that have been cut, especially in Nigeria’s high prevalent states.
Conte also expressed concern, saying that there could be a surge in the prevalence of FGM due to the second wave of Coronavirus pandemic.
He said the organisation had projected that two million cases of FGM would likely occur within the next 10 years in the world due to COVID-19 and Nigeria was not spared.
Conte called for a united, concerted and well-funded action to end the practice, which he described as human rights violation.
“FGM remains gender based violence. Hence, the need for a united front, funding, and action to end this horrific violence against our women and children,” Conte said.
Newsmen report that the UN first officially commemorated the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Feb. 6, 2003.
The theme for the 2021 FGM Day is: “No Time for Global Inaction: Unite, Fund and Act to End FGM”.