The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has called for a nationwide effective enforcement of the laws prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) toward enhancing societal development.
Dr Diene Keita, the UNFPA Country Director, Nigeria, made the call at the 24th Annual Teenage Festival of Life (TFL) on Saturday in Lagos.
TFL is a forum that enables young people and relevant stakeholders to identify the plights facing youths through artistic presentations with a view to enlisting them as critical stakeholders.
The theme of the festival was: “FGM Free Generation.”
Newsmen report that TFL was organised by an NGO, Action Health Incorporated (AHI), dedicated to promoting youth’s health and development toward their successful transition to adulthood.
Newsmen report that eight states: Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Edo, Cross River and Rivers have domesticated the laws prohibiting FGM.
FGM is a procedure that involves partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons.
Keita, represented by Dr Omolaso Omosehin, the Director, UNFPA Lagos Office, said that formulation and enforcement of laws aimed at ending FGM should be extended to other states toward encouraging cultural changes.
She said that former President Goodluck Jonathan had in May 2015 banned FGM through the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP), 2015.
“Millions of girls are still at risk because the law is not being enforced appropriately.
“This age long tradition is harmful to female reproduction system, harmful to health and has no medical basis,” Keita said.
She said theme of the festival coincides with the government’s efforts to end FGM in the country, adding that UNFPA would continue to provide necessary support to attain the government’s agenda.
Keita urged the Federal Government to create an alternative job opportunities for circumciser, especially in the rural communities toward reducing the practice.
She said that there was need for improved awareness and collaboration to change the global narrative of Nigeria accounting for about one-quarter of the estimated 115 to 130 million circumcised women in the world.
Also, Mrs Adenike Esiet, the Executive Director of AHI, said that the festival was to boost the awareness and knowledge of youths to get them engaged in the discourse toward impacting their various communities.
In her remarks, Miss Funso Bukoye, the Project Coordinator of TFL, said that the severe short-term and long-term physical and psychological effects of mutilation was practised with the belief that it was beneficial for girls.
“Some communities believe it ensures and preserves virginity, marital faithfulness and prevents promiscuity,” Bukoye said.
She said that the platforms had enlisted thousands of youths in Lagos as change agents that would champion the government’s agenda of achieving FGM free country.