The Leadership of Owerri West and Ehime Mbano council areas of Imo State has cautioned parents still immersed in Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to desist forthwith from such ugly trend or face the wrath of the law and Highlighted that the law will not fail to take its toll on anyone found guilty.
According to them, they will not hesitate to expose any member of their various communities found culpable and advised their kinsmen to take seriously this admonish from UNICEF and other relevant government agencies, the need to eradicate FGM in the communities across the state.
The community leaders explained that measures have been put in place so as to keep a tab on defaulting members of their communities. The leaders comprising traditional rulers, presidents general of autonomous communities, women and youth leaders stressed that they had established monitoring teams in their various localities to place traditional birth attendants and other proponents of the culture which they noted had continued to ruin the girl child and the society at large.
In his welcome address, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh, Chief of UNICEF Nigeria, Field Office, Enugu admonished the various communities to obey the law of the land, abolishing FGM, as mechanism has been put in place to deal with recalcitrant individuals caught in the act, as the law is no respecter of persons no matter how highly placed
According to him, FGM had continued to linger in most communities due to ignorance, primitivity and superstition among the citizenry.
Dr. Conteh explained that the ratio of the girl child that had died as a result of FGM is worrisome and quite alarming, stressing that the pains, trauma, shock, infections such as HIV, hepatitis, psychological problems such as sexual dysfunction in marriage low self esteem, loss of blood leading to anemia, disability due to fracture, child and maternal mortality and keloid formation were among the challenges associated with FGM practice in the society.
Speaking, the President General Uzochukwu Azutalam of Ohii autonomous community who spoke in tandem with his Oforola counterpart, Chief Robinson Nwankwo described the exercise as timely and a step in the right direction to spare the girl child from horrors associated with FGM even as the traditional ruler of the Okpala Umuekwunne community Eze Bara Ikegwu and the president general of Eziama Ngor-Okpala Oluchi Nwele equally unfolded plans already put in place to end the obnoxious practice.
They vowed to enforce the Imo state House of Assembly law 2017 which spelt out 14 years imprisonment or N250,000 fine or both for individuals found guilty of the act.
In their various contributions, Uzor Onyenagbaya–Youth Leader, Ugirike autonomous community, Ikeduru LGA, Austine Abaneme, president general of Umualumaku Umueze and Mrs Scholastica Iwuji – women Leader Owubibi community Ikeduru LGA disclosed that FGM had since been outlawed in their respective communities because of the horror and danger associated with same.
Contributing, HRH Eze Joe Anika of the Atta Ancient Kingdom, commended governor Hope Uzodinma for the official recognition accorded Presidents General of the various communities in the state, highlighting that this had eased the burden of traditional rulers in grassroots development.
His words, “There is a scientific proof that FGM is harmful and I have placed a penalty of N5,000 and other sanctions for anybody who indulges in it in my community while traditional birth attendants have been banned”.
Vitus Ekeocha–Director of NOA in the state classified FGM into four groups and enumerated its inevitable consequences and implications on the girl child.
He described FGM as any procedure that involves total or partial removal of parts of the female reproductive organ not based on medical grounds said that it is a violation of the rights of the girl child.
According to him, Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Ngor Okpala, Owerri West Ehime Mbano, Ikeduru and Ideato North counts with the highest prevalence of FGM in the state and expressed worry over this development.
Eekocha however called on various stakeholders to disseminate basic information to their various localities, so as to checkmate the resurgence of FGM in the communities.
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