An NGO, Women Against Violence and Exploitation (WAVE) Foundation has called on the government to declare Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) a criminal act, so as to strengthen punishment of perpetrators.
President of the organisation, Mrs Lola Ibrahim, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
Ibrahim said that the International Women’s Day (IWD) campaign, commemorated annually on March 8 was combined with the advocacy actions that seek to educate the public on the effects of female genital mutilation.
“We are using the significance of the IWD to call on the government and other stakeholders to declare the practice of female genital mutilation, a criminal act.
“They should make it completely a punishable offence under the existing laws, in order to discourage unrepentant perpetrators.
“These people make a living from it without considering the lives at risk of its downsides such as severe pain, shock, tetanus, haemorrhage, urine retention and death due to severe pain during child labour,’’ Ibrahim said.
The president noted that FGM, gender based violence and unequal representation in governance among others were challenges affecting women both at the local and international level, which had promoted inequality.
“We want to encourage all women to be united, focused and determined in their agitation for that which would make them thrive without fear of molestation and undue disrespect to their human dignity.
“We also call on the government to create economic opportunities and a secure environment with legal protection of fundamental human rights of women as enshrined in our laws.
“These would enable and guarantee an average woman, the confidence to speak against social injustice without fear of condemnation, harassment and threat to their peace both at home and their places of work.’’
Ibrahim reiterated the commitment of the foundation towards more advocacy to end FGM and enhance women empowerment, particularly in rural communities.
“We remain resolute in championing the eradication of FGM, which is a barbaric and unhealthy practice towards girl’s child and women in general,’’ she said. (NAN)