By Vincent Ujumadu

FIVE states in Nigeria namely, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo are leading in female genital mutilation, according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.

In the report, UNICEF said nearly three million girls and women would have undergone female genital mutilation in the last five states.

At a media dialogue with select journalists in Enugu to mark this year’s International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, the world body observed that the exercise is on the increase among Nigerian girls aged 0 -14 years.

UNICEF said the prevalence of FGM is highest in the South East with 35 percent, followed by South West with 30 percent and lowest in the North East with six percent.

The Officer in Charge of UNICEF Zonal Office, Enugu, Mrs. Maureen Zubie-Okolo said: “Rates have risen from 16.9 percent in 2013 to 19.2 percent in 2018, a worrying trend.

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“Female genital mutilation remains widespread in Nigeria. With an estimated 19.9 million survivors, Nigeria accounts for the third highest number of women and girls who have undergone female genital mutilation.

“While the national prevalence of female genital mutilation among women in Nigeria aged 15– 49 dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2018, prevalence among girls increased from 16.9 percent to 19.2 percent within the same period”.

According to her, the female genital mutilation in Nigeria occurs mainly during infancy, adding that 86 percent of females were cut before the age of five, while eight percent were cut between ages five and 14 years.

She added: “As the world commemorates the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM, about 4.16 million girls and women are at risk of genital mutilation. COVID-19 disruptions could add as many as two million cases of FGM by 2030 that would have otherwise have been averted.

“Millions of girls are being robbed of their childhoods, health, education and aspirations everyday by harmful practices such as FGM and child early and forced marriage.

“The practice of FGM has no health benefits and it is deeply harmful to girls and women both physically and psychologically. It is a practice that has no place in our society and must be ended, as many Nigerian communities have already pledged to do”

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