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December 23, 2020

Female Genital Mutilation not a joke, UNFPA tells Govs

FGM: It’s attack on our sexuality, stakeholders cry out

By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), on Tuesday, told state governors not to treat the lingering practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) with levity.

As the UN agency also charged them to step up, within their states, more funding and sensitization programmes on the seriousness of the practice as an act of gender-based violence.

Dr Zubaida Abubakar, UNFPA’s National Programme Analyst for Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and HIV (Nigeria), made the call during a webinar on the dissemination of findings from the ‘UN Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM in Nigeria: Progress Report’.

Abubakar stated that with UNFPA receiving a limited amount of funding from donors, there was a need for States to create a budget line for ending sexual and gender-based violence, particularly FGM.

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She said, “When we bring funds (for eliminating FGM), we expect to see state governors saying ‘This is important for me. I need to create a budget line and increase funding so that more local government areas and communities can be reached with the programme’.

“We, as UNFPA, are recipients of donor fund. We receive a finite amount of money which cannot reach every part of the country. So, we want to see the states recognize the seriousness of FGM and show that commitment to it.”

She also called on state governors to take ownership of mapping stakeholders in their domains to ensure that no one was left behind in terms of information gathering and sharing on FGM.

Speaking also, the Executive Director of Education as a Vaccine (EVA), Bukky Williams, noted that ending FGM was beyond asking traditional cutters to stop the practice.

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She, therefore, stressed the need for the government and other stakeholders to create alternative sources of income for them as well as provide necessary empowerment to ensure do not go back to the practice again as a means of survival in the communities.

Williams noted that the webinar would generate important conversations to ensure that there was no rollback on the progress, so far made in the elimination of FGM in Nigeria.

In his report presentation, Solomon Ogwuche, EVA’s programme manager, said in all states, there was the general perception that the government was doing less than it can for the campaign for the abandonment of FGM.

“Sanctions stipulated in the policies on FGM have not been seen to be affected, and people are not taking the law seriously since there are no observable repercussions and consequences of flouting the laws,” he said.

Vanguard News Nigeria