OSOGBO—Thirty nine communities in Osun State recently affirmed that they have abandoned the traditional practice of female genital cutting and mutilation and never to return to the practice any longer.
At the signing of an undertaking by the representatives of the communities on the abandonment of FGM at a program at Ife-Ooye LCDA, the communities regretted that they have struck to the tradition for so long to the detriment of their children.
The development is a progress for women and girls in Osun State which is among the five states in Nigeria where the cultural practice of female genital cutting is still rampant.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, is a harmful traditional practice and gross violation of the girl-child’s fundamental human rights which must be eradicated in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, the UNICEF FGM consultant for Ekiti, Osun and Oyo states, Mrs Aderonke Olutayo, said: “FGM is a social norm which means that people practice it because they believe that others in their community do it, and these people believe they ought to conform to it.
“Most of the reasons sustaining the practice are based on myths and preconceptions, which in turn have shaped the social expectations among the people
“FGM poses increased risk of infection or prolonged bleeding, prolonged labour, still-birth and maternal death during child delivery.
“It also leaves lasting physical and emotional scars and an irreparable physical damage.”
Olutayo, however, lamented the prevalence of FGM in Osun, saying the state has the highest rate of FGM in the South-West and in Nigeria.
She noted that FGM prevalence among girls and women in the state was about 68.7 per cent, which according to her was higher than the national prevalence of 18.4 per cent.
Olutayo said it was a thing of joy for UNICEF to see more than 137 communities in the state making public declaration of abandonment of FGM.
Her words: “The event rewrites history and marks a new chapter for the next generation of girls and women in these communities, as they publicly declare the total abandonment of FGM and create a new norm of keeping their girls intact; the way that they were created.
“We hope that today’s public declaration will inspire other communities at various stages of education and dialogues to accelerate their progress towards declaring the abandonment of FGM.
“UNICEF will continue to support you to sustain this momentum by embarking on post-declaration surveillance to monitor compliance.”
Earlier in her remarks, the Osun Director of National Orientatiin Agency, NOA, Mrs Yomi Olasinde, said: “I believe with this public declaration, nobody in these communities will ever venture into such depravity as they now know the legal, social and medical implications.”