Oluwasegun Aina, Ado-Ekiti
A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), HACEY Health Initiative, has advocated for stiffer laws against the practice of female genital mutilation in Nigeria.
Executive Director of the NGO, Mrs Rhoda Robinson, stated this during an advocacy visit to the Speaker, Ekiti House of Assembly, Mr Funminiyi Afuye, in his office in Ado-Ekiti on Monday.
She said that the organisation was in the assembly to solicit for the lawmakers’ support in making laws that would protect women and girls.
Robinson described female genital mutilation as a harmful and dangerous traditional practice which had both short and long term implications, calling for an end to it.
“Our visit here today is to ensuring that women and girls are protected by laws against the practice of FGM.
“We are happy that the assembly had passed laws on gender-based violence and others to protect women and girls.
“According to Violence Against Person Act, FGM is a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment.
“We need stronger laws and stricter enforcement of the existing ones such that people will understand that it is no longer acceptable for female genital mutilation to be practised,” she said.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the visit, the Gender Desk Officer in the Ministry of Health, Mrs Oluwakemi Akinleye said that about 19.9 million children and women had been victims of female genital cut.
Akinleye, quoting a national survey carried out in 2018, said that the figure was alarming.
“Going by this scientific survey, the victims are within the age range of 15 and 49, a situation that has psychological, emotional, sexual and psycho-traumatic stress disorder on their wellbeing.
“FGM is a bad practice, whether it is done traditionally or medically. Medicalisation of FGM, that is, the ones being done by doctors, nurses and other health officials, do not make the practice healthy and safe,” she said.
The desk officer warned parents to desist from the practice which, she said, had caused lots of damage to many women and children.
According to her, Ekiti has the highest level of prevalence rate in the South-West, with Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo and Osun states trailing behind.
Responding, the speaker restated the assembly’s commitment to making laws that would meaningfully affect the lives of the people of the state and bring about development.
Afuye disclosed that a bill on the prohibition of female genital mutilation was underway, as part of efforts by wife of Ekiti Governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, to end the menace.
He promised that the bill would be given speedy consideration when it was eventually transmitted to the assembly.
The speaker pledged his support his unflinching support for the campaign against female genital mutilation by signing a copy of the “Stop Cut Project Action Plan”, an initiative of the NGO to fight the unwholesome practice.
Present at the occasion were: Mrs Yemisi Ayokunle, a member representing Ekiti South-West I; Chief Gboyega Aribisogan, Ikole I; Mr Abiodun Fawekun, Ido/Osi I, Mr Tunji Joseph, Ekiti South-West II and Mrs Modupe Akinleye from the Ministry of Health and Human Development.