From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
New Generation Girls and Women Development Initiative, (NIGAWD), a Non-Governmental Organization, has called on Nigerians to always report suspected cases of Female Genital Mutilation(FGM), to help reduce the harmful act in the country.
NIGAWD Executive Director, Mrs Abimbola Aladejare-Salako, who gave the charge noted that the menace is on the increase in Nigeria because people are not willing to report FGM cases.
Aladejare-Salako who spoke in Ijero-Ekiti, headquarters of Ijero Local Government Area of Ekiti State while inaugurating the council’s EndFGM Surveillance Team lamented that Nigeria accounts for 10% of the global FGM burden saying Imo and Ekiti States have highest prevalence of 61.7% and 57.9% respectively.
The establishment of the EndFGM surveillance team by NIGAWD was supported by the United Nation Population Fund (UNPF)
“There are laws against FGM in Nigeria. The law, for instance was enacted in Ekiti State in 2002 and we now have amended Ekiti State Gender Based Violence prohibition law 2019 which criminalises FGM.
“We should by now have a lot of people that have been convicted by this law. It means that the practice is still ongoing and on the high side among the people. It also suggests the law is not well implemented. That is why members of the surveillance team must ensure that FGM cases are reported for necessary action.”
On the establishment of the EndFGM surveillance team, the NIGAWD boss said her organisation has been working in all communities of the council in the last one year and trained Champions to educate the people on the danger associated with FGM.
” The champions, for three months, embarked on door to door campaign to educate the people of the local government on the harmful effect of FGM.
“An intergenerational dialogue was also held with all communities stakeholders led by their traditional and religious leaders on the issue of FGM and its implication.
” A consensus building meeting was later held with over 100 community leaders where the people made declaration to abandon the FGM practice. After the declaration of the abandonment, we felt there is the need to be in place a surveillance team to monitor and ensure that the FGM abandonment declaration is complied with.”
Aladejare-Salako revealed that the team had been established in Efon Local Government with the plan for others before the end of the year while it will be extended to other council areas of the state through other partners.
She said the team is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the communication continues as well as reporting cases of FGM.
The team, according to her, is made up of Community Health Extension Workers (CHEW, ) Traditional Birth Attendants(TBAs), Iya Agbebis in faith-based homes, traditional worshippers, people engaged to deliver babies as well as those in the churches and mosques.
“We want to ensure that nobody is left out, though more of health workers who interface with pregnant women and children through antenatal and immunisations on regular basis were engaged.
” FGM has been criminalised in the state, we need law enforcement agents to implement the law. That is why we have Policemen, men of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the team.”
A toll free telephone line 0800 008 8888, powered by UNFPA and that of the security agents were made available to the participants to report cases of FGM.