The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) says female genital mutilation (FGM) is on the increase in Ekiti State and has reached an alarming rate of about 72 percent.
Aderonke Olutayo, UNICEF Consultant on female genital mutilation for Ekiti, Osun and Oyo States said female children between the ages of zero and 14 years are the victims.
Olutayo who disclosed this at the end of the stakeholders meeting of the State Technical Committee on FGM held in Ado-Ekiti on Sunday, also lamented that some communities still carry out the practice on teenagers and adults, even up till the marriageable age.
According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), 2013, Osun State has the highest prevalence of FMG with 76.6 percent followed by Ekiti State that has 72.3 percent. In each of the states, a total of 586 and 236 were circumcised respectively.
The survey revealed that female circumcision is most prevalent among Yoruba women accounting for 55 percent of the cases across the country.
“Some of those who perform the genital mutilation are unskilled. They do it with primitive and unsterilised equipment and do damage to human parts.
“The World Health Organisation had a law prohibiting this practice and it has been domesticated in Nigeria, particularly in Ekiti State. I want to appeal that the laws must be implemented to protect the lives of our women,” she said.
According to her, it would take collective efforts of all stakeholders to curb the menace noting that UNICEF is joining Ekiti State Government with technical supports in order to eliminate the practise from the society.
She commended the state government for their determination in putting in place framework for prosecution of those practising it, but suggested the need for legal and policy framework from the state government to curb the harmful practise,
The UNICEF Consultant identified cultural and traditional beliefs as being responsible for the practice, noting that some people see it as a family heritage, “but we must stop it”.
Speaking also Olurotimi Ojo, Ekiti State Commissioner for Health, decried the prevalence rate of female genital mutilation in the state.
Represented by Ayotunde Omole, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ojo charged members of the committee to join hands with government in eradicating the menace in the state, saying that the practise which is prevalent in the rural areas must be nipped in the bud with concerted efforts from officials of Primary Health Care because of their proximity to the grassroots.
He said that over 72 per cent cases are reported in Ekiti, ranking the state high in the prevalence of the harmful practice, and urged the stakeholders to join in the campaign against the act.
Stressing that FGM had done more harm to women that had been cut, Ojo said that the victims are either carrying lifetime infectious diseases like HIV, barrenness, hemorrhage, broken home due to sexual non-satisfaction and other associated problems due to the cutting of their genitals.
Ojo described genital mutilation as “a flagrant infringement of the rights of the female gender,” and urged the government at all levels to stop the menace in the overall interest of motherhood.
The Commissioner explained that the state had domesticated the law banning the practice in the state and warned that anyone caught still engaging in the practice would be prosecuted.
He charged the womenfolk, whom he described as “the real victims” to intensify their campaign against cutting of the female genitals, to create more awareness.