By Chris Njoku, Owerri
Imo State government has expressed concern over the growing incidence of violence against children (VAC) despite efforts and measures put in place by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to protect the rights of women and girls in Nigeria, particularly in the state.
Expressing the worry on Tuesday at a one-day meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and selected young people to review the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) elimination campaign in the state, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Vulnerable Groups, Lady Nkechinyere Ugwu represented by the Director Child Department, Mr. Benjamin Amaefula noted that harmful practices against children such as FGM are still practised in some communities in the state hence the meeting with CSOs aimed at eliminating the practice in the state.
She stated that “the girl child is very paramount to the development of our society. It is on this note that UNFPA/UNICEF joint programme has obtained public declaration for the abandonment of FGM in the world today without leaving behind our own communities in Imo State.
“It is distressing to note that despite all efforts and measures put in place by my ministry, UNICEF and other partners such as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to protect the rights of women and girls the practice is still on in some localities.
“It has become imperative that you are equipped with the knowledge to help our girls who are survivors of FGM and prevent FGM in our society.
She urged all participants to integrate FGM to their private organisation activities as well as strengthen the referral system and collaboration to ensure making Imo FGM-free.
Participants observed that most communities had stopped cutting the clitoris but had adopted massaging, numbing and applying hot water to render the clitoris non-functional.