By Gbenga Olarinoye
Osogbo—As the International Day for Zero-Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation was marked on Tuesday, the Osun State Ministry of Health and a non-governmental organisation have resolved to take severe measures in stemming the rising spate of cutting girls’ genitalia in most communities in the state.
Speaking at a programme in Osogbo tagged: Ending Female Gential Mutilation/Cutting, the state government and the Sexual Reproductive Health-oriented organisation, Value Female Network, VFN, advised people of the state to always report anyone caught carrying out FGM on girls to security agencies.
For VFN, governments at all levels should take the bull by the horn in tackling the practice of cutting girls by collaborating with NGOs, who are into advocacies against the deadly practice.
A founding member of VFN and Director of Gender Innovation in the organisation, Mr. Samuel Abimbade, said the debilitating effects this practice was causing on survivors and victims were much, disclosing that eight out of 10 girls in some parts of Osun are being mutilated.
Emphasising the need for governments at all levels to partner with NGOs like VFN to ensure an end to cutting of girls, Abimbade, an adolescent and sexual reproductive health expert, asked the state government to work more on proper monitoring of traditional birth attendants and traditional circumcisers to ensure that they do not carry out the practice secretly.
To achieve this, the IPAS Nigeria Youth ambassador advised the state government to collaborate with VFN and other concerned organisations to reach out to communities in the state, sensitise them and ensure that promoters of the harmful practice desist from it.
Calling on residents of Osun and other states of the federation to end FGM, Abimbade argued that FGM does not prevent promiscuity as some quarters erroneously make people to believe.
Abimbade said researches had shown that most commercial sex workers were mutilated thus ruling out the speculation that the practice makes girls not to be wayward.
He described as alarming the prevalence in Osun saying some circumsisers now advertise cutting of girls on social media and also seek patronage from interested people. “It has now gotten to the stage where circumsisers advertise the practice and ask people to mutilate three of their girls and get a discount on one,” he added.
Abimbade advised government to provide alternative source of livelihood for the traditional circumcissers arguing that majority of them see the practice as source of revenue despite the myths that surround the act.
Also speaking, Mr. Dare Adeoye, an Adolescent and Reproductive Health expert decried the traditional practice and warned circumcisers of girls to desist from the act.
Adeoye said it is sad Nigeria ranks 2nd among countries of the world that have highest rate of maternal death stressing that males are mostly behind the practice.
For an official of the Ministry of Health, Mrs. Adelowokan, the people of the state have not been helping the government in stemming the practice as some of them hesitate to report those who indulge in mutilation.
According to the Gender Health expert, Ede North has the highest prevalence of 88 per cent, Ifelodun has 81 oper cent, Olaoluwa and Orolu have 76 per cent, Oriade has 71 per cent while Ife Central has 67 per cent prevalence.