Reporter : CHINAZO ILECHUKWU
Thirty-one communities in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State have publicly denounced the practice of female genital mutilation.
At the event, which took place at the council headquarters Urualla, the Chairman Ideato North Traditional Institution, Eze Kosman Kanu, said the declaration followed their conviction that the age-long cultural practice posed serious health hazard to women and girls.
Ideato North is the seventh local government area in Imo State that has publicly denounce the practice since the sensitization began in 2015.
The Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey Report of 2018 ranked Imo top on the states with prevalence of female genital mutilation at 61.7% for women aged fifteen to forty nine.
To put an end to this practice, which experts say causes keloid, complications during childbirth and sometimes bleeding to death, among others, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the Imo State Government and other partner agencies with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) engaged traditional and religious leaders in the affected areas to change the social norm.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman Ideato North Traditional Rulers Institution and the traditional ruler of Iheme-Izuogu community, Eze Kosman Kanu, who led thirty other royal fathers, declared the cessation of female genital mutilation in their communities and warning that anyone caught in the act would henceforth face sanctions.
The Director National Orientation Agency in Imo State, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, who recounted the rigorous efforts made to get the people to abandon the practice, expressed delight that the girl child born in the area would be saved from the harmful effects of mutilating the genitalia, thereby giving her new lease of life.
The Chief, UNICEF Enugu Field Office, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh, in a message noted that Imo had great policies to protect the rights and privileges of children, women and girls and gave the assurance that the organization would continue to collaborate with stakeholders to protect women and girls from harmful cultural practices.
Dr. Conteh, whose message was delivered by UNICEF Consultant Imo and Ebonyi States, Dr. Benjamin Mbakwem, urged the communities to put mechanisms in motion to monitor and ensure compliance.
Earlier, the Chairperson International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Mrs. Chisara Egwim-Chima, and her counterpart in National Human Rights Commission in Imo State, Mrs. Ukachi Uka, warned that anyone caught abetting female genital mutilation would face the law.