REPORTER: JULIANA OKORO
As the world marks this year’s International Day of zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), some survivors of the obnoxious traditional practice in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have called for the enactment of a special law that will punish offenders of FGM.
The survivors, including Mrs. Rose Elom from Okposhi Eheku Ngbo, Mrs. Glory Odo who hails from Amaku Ngbo as well as Nkechi Agbo from Umuezeaka Ngbo made the call when Radio Nigeria visited some of the communities to monitor the impact of the sensitization by UNICEF and other partners as part of the activities marking this year’s event with the theme “Her Voice, her future.”
The women said although the awareness and massive sensitization of the people, especially rural dwellers, had helped to reduce the scourge, they were of the opinion that if FGM offenders were imprisoned for four years or made to pay a fine of N200, 000.00 as stipulated by the VAAP law which was domesticated in the state in 2018, it would serve as a deterrent to others.
Speaking on the effects of FGM during child birth one of the survivors, Mrs. Rose Elom said “I used to have prolonged labour and during the delivery of almost all my children I had tears.
“In fact, it was a gory sight, from my youth age until now I do find it difficult to have sexual intercourse with my husband.
“Anything I know I can do, I will do it to eradicate FGM; I will continue to sensitize women and girls on FGM because it hampers the progress of the girl-child,” she sobbed.
However, her case is just one among many, as corroborated by two other survivors, Mrs. Ngozi Egba from Ukwagba and Mrs. Angela Ugadi from Amechi Izhia Ngbo, who said they had become advocates of FGM in their localities following sensitization and awareness creation by UNICEF in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in the Council.
They called on government at all levels to, as a matter of urgency, enforce laws to criminalize the practice, which according to them is a cultural practice during fattening of young girls before they are betrothed to their husbands in Ohaukwu Council area.
Mrs. Ugadi narrated how she suffered from multiple mutilation,.
“I suffered from cuttings during childbirth as nurses tried to assist me to deliver my baby but due to the mutilations, I had several cuts.
“I later discovered from my mother that I had multiple mutilations,” she said in tears.
She however, stated that due to the sensitization and campaigns against FGM, many parents had started jettisoning the practice, especially for fear of being caught and handed over to security agents.
This was attested to by the President General of Okposi Eshi Town Union, Mr. Obazi Uchenna Obazi, who said it was now a taboo in his community for any parent to cut or mutilate their female children under any guise.
He stressed that “anybody involved in such act, youths in the area will punish the person severely before handing him or her over to the appropriate authorities.”
For their part, Mr. Okabe Lazarus Oduma in charge of NOA in Ohaukwu Local Government Area; his Colleague, Mrs. Onyeka Elechi; and one of the trainees, who engages in sensitizing rural dwellers from Okorogbata Ngbo, Mr. Oshim Sunday Onwe, said that a lot had been achieved in terms of sensitization of the people to FGM in Ohaukwu Local Government Area.
They Commended UNICEF for its efforts in sustaining and promoting the wellbeing of Nigerians and promised that they would continue to carry out their duties to ensure total eradication of FGM and other obnoxious practices against women and girls.
Other members of the communities visited such as Umuezeaka, Umuakpu and Ukwuachi villages, said they were happy that the efforts of those sensitizing them to the need to shun FGM and other violations against women were yielding positive results.
They expressed the hope that in no distant time such obnoxious practices would be a thing of the past.
EDITED BY CHUKWUBUIKE MADU