The observance of the international day of zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on the 6th of February came into being in 2003, to enhance awareness campaigns and take concrete actions against the practice of FGM.
This practice as defined by the World Health Organization, (WHO)”is the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or another injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.
According to information obtained from the official website of the United Nations, it states that around 200 million women alive have gone through the painful process of FGM while 28 million African (Nigeria inclusive) and Middle Eastern countries have been identified where FGM has the highest rate.
As we join the rest of the world to commemorate the international day of zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), we call for an emergency response and investment in women and girls from the state to community level, in line with the observance theme for 2022.
It is sad to note that Imo ranked high in the prevalence of the practice of FGM following the recent 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS). In the document, a high percentage of women aged 15-49 were already circumcised, while the three states with the highest prevalence were Imo-61.7%, Ekiti-57.9% and Ebonyi-53.2%.
In a recent interview with the Secretary, State Technical Committee on FGM in Imo state, Mrs Stella Ukaegbu, she pointed out that the prevalent practice in Imo state is Type 4, due to the preconceived norm to tame promiscuity in young girls using the practice.
She noted that several interventions so far with support from the United Nations Children Emergency Funds, UNICEF and UNFPA will give favorable out come in the next survey, despite implementing only in nine out of Twenty-seven LGAs in Imo state.
Regrettably, hundreds of girls are at increased risk of female genital mutilation due to discriminatory social, cultural, and religious norms which uphold this harmful practice.
There is also no known positive impact of the practice, rather its negative impact have life threatening implications from poverty, horrendous life threatening physical and psychological trauma, difficulty in passing urine, injury to genital tissue, chronic pelvic infections, development of cysts, excessive scar tissue formation, infection of the reproductive system, complications during child birth, decreased sexual pleasure and psychological consequences, such as post traumatic stress disorder, and deaths have been recorded. This practice must be abolished at all cost!
Despite these dangerous impacts, girls and women are still subjected to FGM and violators have not been prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.
As we mark the 2022 International Day of zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) with the theme “Accelerating Investment to End FGM”, we implore communities and the state government to urgently invest in the total eradication of female genital mutilation in all nooks and crannies of the state were it is practiced.
We call on;
. The Government and stakeholders to intensify awareness of FGM in all communities in Imo and provide support services to women/girls affected by FGM.
• To collaborate with FGM-related Social Service Providers in Imo State to advocate for the elimination of FGM and provide quality essential social services to survivors of FGM.
• The State government to implement and enforce all laws on FGM especially the VAPP.
• Support established FGM State and Local Government Technical committees and expand the committee to cover all LGAs
• Communities to initiate bye laws on FGM and follow it up to make sure it stands as well as work with health care providers to give health sensitization during their communal meetings.
• Government to fund trainings for health workers in rural communities on FGM.