The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has strengthened its support and synergy with Ebonyi State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in collaboration with the State Ministry Of Health to ensure rapid eradication of the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and cutting in the state.
The UNICEF consultant for Ebonyi and the Imo States, Mr. Benjamin Mbakwe, made the disclosure in Abakaliki during a one-day quarterly state technical committee meeting on female genital mutilation and cutting abandonment for Ebonyi state and local technical committees to gather information for future plans.
Delivering his lecture, Mr. Mbakwe who frowned that in Nigeria, only 7 cases of arrest was made in 2018 about FGM, called for increased rate of enforcement of legislation against defaulters of the inhuman practice in the country to serve as deterrent and pledged their resolve to support Ebonyi State government in promoting welfare of women and children, especially in the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation.
He insisted that the support has become necessary as a result of the commitment of the state government in that direction, having recorded a lot of achievements in the reduction of the menace and added that in 2018, 415 communities in Nigeria made a public declaration of abandonment of FGM.
According to him, the recent demographic survey has shown a reduction of FGM in Ebonyi state, having recorded the second highest across the country according to the 2013 survey, even as 18% of girls and women in Nigeria between 15 to 49 years have been mutilated genitally.
Mr. Mbakwe observed that FGM prevalence among women aged 15 to 49 years consistently decreased in the FGM joint program intervention states from 2007 to 2017 due to collaborative efforts.
He regretted that some health workers perform FGM on female babies at delivery before being taken home to avoid detection by the community surveillance system and solicited for the more hands-on deck to ensure total eradication of the harmful practice.
On their parts, the UNICEF desk officer in Ebonyi state ministry of women affairs and social development, Mr. Emmanuel Nkwuda and his ministry of health counterpart, Mrs. MaryJane Nwobodo while applauding UNICEF and UNFPA for their intervention in elimination of the scourge in the country, called for multidimensional approaches in the fight against FGM with blame on parents.
Speaking during an interview, the head of department childcare and development in the ministry of women affairs and social development, Mr. Godwin Igwe stated that the meeting was expected to serve as an avenue to find out further measures/approaches to be put in place to dislodge FGM in Ebonyi state and called for more stringent punishments for defaulters.
The review meeting was attended by representatives from concerned ministries, agencies, departments as well as Administrative Secretaries in charge of health in Local Government Areas of the state.
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