By Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI — ROYAL fathers and elders of Izzi clan, comprising Ebonyi, Abakaliki and Izzi Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State, yesterday, made a public declaration abandoning the ugly practice of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting, FGM/C, which had over the years caused untold pains to girls and women in the area.
In their declaration, which was signed by the Izzi Clan Traditional Ruler’s Forum and custodians of Izzi culture, the royal fathers said, “It, therefore, stands that we have today expunged and outlawed the practice of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting from the culture of Izzi clan and mandate Izzi traditional rulers to publicize it in their domain.”
Speaking at the occasion, wife of Ebonyi State Governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi, who thanked the people of Izzi clan for the initiative expressed optimism that with the public declaration by the people, the issue of FGM would soon be a thing of the past in the state.
She noted that her pet project, Family Succour and Upliftment Foundation, would remain a veritable tool for the protection of the girl-child and empowerment of women across the state.
She said her office would ensure that all relevant stakeholders key into the policy of the state toward the complete eradication of FMG/C, which had over the years become a source of pain to girls and women in the state.
In his remarks, United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, Nigeria Chief of Field Officer, Ibrahim Conteh, stated that the exercise would mark a new chapter for the next generation of girls and women living within the location and indeed Ebonyi state at large.
The UNICEF boss, who stated that the practice of FGM remained a social norm that was being fuelled by myths, preconceptions and diverse ignorance about social expectations, added that seven out of every 10 girls or women had suffered preventable and irreversible damage to their genital organs and many had died as a result of the consequences.
“As you may be aware now, FGM is one of the most harmful prevailing practices known to human race since the end of the era of human practices like human sacrifice, killing of twins and slavery.
“The harmful practice of FGM has endured generations and was tolerated and in certain ways promoted due to multiple factors of preconceptions and pluralistic ignorance.
“Ebonyi State has the second highest FGM prevalent rate at 74 per cent and ranks second highest in the country. Embedded in these numbers are the lives of girls and women.”