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UNFPA-UNICEF renew fight against FGM in Imo

By Chris Njoku

The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has raised the alarm over upsurge of female Genital Mutilation in the country.

The scourge, according to the world body, had continued to rear its ugly head due to myriads of socio-cultural beliefs that vary across communities with regional and ethnic variations in prevalence.

UNICEF facilitator in Imo State, Dr. Vitus Ekeocha while speaking at a one day UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme on Elimination of the FGM Accelerating Change” held in the Isu Council Area of the state said that a National Policy and Plan of Action on Elimination of the obnoxious culture in the country (2013-2017), (2020-2024) version is being produced.

Quoting the nation’s demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2013 and 2018, Ekeocha said that while the trend rose from 32.3% to 63% (2018) in Imo state which was the third highest in the country, the national figure level jumped from 16.9% to 19.2% in 2018.

Ekeocha challenged religious leaders to play critical role towards the elimination of the FGM and other related abominable practices in their domains.

“Religious leaders are often the vanguards of social changes, promotion of social welfare and fight for equality, peace and human dignity. They have the responsibility and mandate to protect and to promote the lives of their followers,” he stated.

The UNICEF facilitator disclosed that the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM Accelerating Change is in support of the Imo state government to strengthen legal frame works prohibiting FGM, mobilize health care workers and law enforcement officials with vital skills to provide quality prevention, protection and response services to girls/women at risk and survivors of FGM among other measures.

Also speaking at the workshop which featured an overview of “Ending Violence Against Children (VAC), Ending Violence Against Women And Children (VAWG), reducing the spread of COVID-19 and child protection” the State Director of NOA Nazzy Njoku similarly denounced FGM as a primitive barbaric culture which had ruined many female babies and women.

Contributing, the UNICEF programme officer for FGM in Imo, Chigozie Ojiaku urged the religious leaders to remain loyal to the pledge to help end FGM.

“FGM is practiced by followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam but it is not supported in the Torah, Bible or Qur’an. These are past mistakes that should be discontinued,” he said.

Also speaking, the UNICEF facilitator for FGM in Imo, Vitus Ekeocha urged the religious leaders to take advantage of their acceptance in their various communities to advocate an end to FGM.

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