Health

FGM: UNICEF INAUGURATES 26 COMMUNITIES SURVEILLANCE WOMEN LEADERS TEAM IN EBONYI, CHARGES THEM TO ENSURE TOTAL ELIMINATION OF PRACTICE

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By Cordelia Agbo

Community women leaders in Ebonyi, comprising; Chairpersons and Secretaries of Women Organizations have been trained as surveillance team in the state to ensure that the ugly practice of Female Genital Mutilation was put to a stop in the State.

Speaking during the training highlights, Mr Uchenna Unah, UNICEF Desk Officer, National Orientation Agency, said the reasons for the training was to ensure that Female Genital Mutilation was totally eliminated in Ebonyi State.

 

Mr Unah charged the women to monitor all pregnant mothers in their different communities and localities, especially those who are due for delivery or had given birth to female children not to involve their children in Female Genital Mutilation.

In a paper presented during the training, Mr. Unah maintained that culture has more harmful effects that can violate human rights and negatively affect the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of an individual, and worse still give way to undue opportunities to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

He said that the training has been carried out in over 26 COMMUNITIES, specifically in Abakaliki and Ebonyi local Government Areas of the State, while UNICEF had taken a familiarization tour to Afikpo South LGA – engaging traditional Rulers, women and Community leaders, towards spreading information on the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Mr Unah noted that every year, about three (3) million girls and women are subjected to the risk of FGM, while it is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide (according to UNICEF 2016 account) are living with the effects of FGM.

In UNICEF’s effort to end FGM in Ebonyi State, Mr Unah disclosed that from 2015, UNFPA/UNICEF in joint programme with the State Government had supported interventions in 9 LGAs of Ebonyi State, namely; Afikpo North, Ebonyi, Ezza North, Ikwo, Ishielu, Ivo, Izzi, Onicha and Ohaukwu and was later increased to 10 LGAs with the addition of Afikpo South LGA, with an accelerating change support to strengthen legal frameworks prohibiting FGM, mobilize Healthcare workers and law enforcement officials with requisite skills to provide quality prevention, protection and response services to girls/women at risk and survivors of FGM, as well as galvanize community education and Dialogue sessions that support social norm change ending in public declarations of FGM abandonment in some communities.

Speaking on the topic, – “Overview of Ending Violence Against Children (VAC), the Head of Department, Child Development, Ministry of women affairs and social development, Mr Igwe Godwin classified violence against children to include all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation including sexual abuse.

Mr Igwe further disclosed that there was high prevalence of violence against children in Nigeria before the age of 18 years.

He noted that 6 out of 10 children experienced some forms of violence, with 50% of all children experiencing physical violence, and called for concerted effort to stem the tide.

Mrs Ijeoma Mike-Aja Nwachukwu, while delivering the paper on “VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS” identified the most common forms of violence against women to include; Physical, Sexual, Cultural, Socio-economic, Child abandonment and Emotional violence as well as discrimination.

Mrs Aja Nwachukwu emphasized that major causes of violence against women and girls was gender inequality and discrimination, coupled with the historical and structural power imbalances between women and men which exists in varying degrees across the communities.

She recommended protective factors towards reducing the risk of VAWG to include completion of secondary education, delaying age of marriage to 18 years, as well as embracing social norms that promote gender equality.

ENDS/

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