Workshop on female genital mutilation ends in Imo
A two-day workshop for community champions on female genital mutilation and cutting in 10 communities in Ngor-Okpala and Ikeduru Local Government Areas has ended at Star Arrival Hotels New Owerri, Imo State, October 19.
The workshop organized by the National Orientation Agency NOA, Imo State in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, was aimed at accelerating the campaign against the obnoxious practice in their respective local government areas.
In his welcome address, the Imo State Director of National Orientation Agency, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, stated that Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting, FGM/C, is widely regarded as anathema and perceived to be contrary to natural justice, equity and good conscience. He also added that it is a harmful practice which has severe health and psychological consequences as well as impacting negatively on the life of women.
Mr. Ekeocha also revealed that FGM/C has a long history and it’s practice persists up till today, as it is rooted on prevailing social norms in the affected communities based on ignorance and myths.
He also said that recent assessment of FGM/C, supported by UNICEF shows a wide prevalence of FGM/C in Imo State adding that the workshop was aimed at ending the practice through a multi-pronged approach of working with communities to address the prevailing social norm.
“Today we are training two personnel from each of the communities whom we have identified as change agents on the FGM/C joint programme in Ikeduru and Ngor-Okpala LGAs, who are to be called community champions. They will be provided with the necessary knowledge and skill in FGM/C. He said inter-personal resource persons were drawn from UNICEF representatives, NOA, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Health, Child Protection Network and Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Imo State.
Mr. Chigozie Ojiaku, one of the resource persons from NOA highlighted the importance of FGM/C abandonment, noting that about 26% of women age 15-49 were circumcised, while about 82% of women under the age of 15 has equally undergone FGM/C. The resource personnel also revealed that Osun State has the highest prevalence at 77% followed by Ebonyi State at 75%, Imo State has a prevalence rate of 68%. Mr. Ojiaku insisted that the higher the level of education, the lesser they undergo circumcision.
He also added that Southeast and Southwest has the highest prevalence and Ngor-Okpala and Ikeduru LGA have the highest in Imo State.
Mr. Ojiaku stated that the purpose of the workshop was to eliminate the practice of FGM/C in Nigeria thereby improving the health and quality of girls and women and also establish a legal frame work for its elimination. He suggested that FGM/C topic be increased in public discussions and community engagements and also integrated into primary and secondary schools and finally conduct targeted media campaign.
Among the participants were youth leaders, women leaders, presidents-general, religious leaders from all autonomous communities in Ikeduru and Ngor-Okpala L.G.As. Also in attendance included Mrs. Violet Igwe representing UNICEF in Ministry of Information, Mrs. Ehefu Ngozi representing Ministry of Health, Mrs. Joy Daberechi Onuoha – Child Protection Network, and Mrs. Blessing Azubuike, UNICEF programme officer for Child Rights, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.