The United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), on Friday, said two million cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) would be recorded by 2030 as a result of COVID-19 disruptions globally.
The officer in charge, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, UNICEF Field Office, Enugu State, Mrs. Maureen Zubie Okolo, added that about 4.16 million girls and women are at risk of genital mutilation.
She made the disclosure during a one-day zonal media dialogue in collaboration with Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) Umuahia with a theme ‘Accelerated Investment to End Female Genital Mutilation’.
She said that UNICEF was initiating a community-led movement to eliminate FGM in five Nigerian States of Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun, and Oyo where it is highly prevalent, adding that nearly three million girls and women would have undergone FGM in the states in the last five years.
“In Nigeria, female genital mutilation occurs mostly during infancy, an estimated 86 per cent of females were cut before the age of five, while eight per cent were cut between ages of five and 14.
“FGM has remained widespread in Nigeria with an estimated 19.9 million survivors, adding that Nigeria accounts for the third-highest number of women and girls who have undergone FGM worldwide.
“The national prevalence of FGM among women in Nigeria aged 15-49 dropped from 25 per cent in 2013 to 20 per cent in 2018, prevalence among girls aged 0-14 increased from 16.9 per cent to 19.2 per cent within the same period.
“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 not only has no health benefits, it is deeply harmful to girls and women, both physically and psychologically. It is a practice that has no place in our society today and must be ended, as many Nigerian communities have already pledged to do,” Okolo said.
She noted that FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
“It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and is an extreme form of discrimination against girls and women,” she said.
In his remark, the Director-General, Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State, Sir Anyaso Anyaso, said that FGM comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
“Girls who undergo FGM face short-term complications such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections and difficult in passing urine as well as long-term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health.
“To promote the elimination of FGM, coordinated and systematic efforts were needed and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights,” he said.
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